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'Winless' pre-league record not reflective of Warrior spikers' play

Fallbrook High School’s girls’ volleyball team officially began Avocado League play with an 0-6 record, but coach Peter Peng and his players believe that the Warriors are better than that mark.

“It’s too bad that our record’s not indicative,” Peng said.

The Warriors’ record does not include the Palm Desert Tournament, where Fallbrook won six of seven matches and the tournament championship. Because those matches were not regulation length they do not count in the overall season records.

Including the tournament results, the Warriors were 6-7 in competitive play following their final pre-league loss, and the tournament finals also saw Fallbrook avenge a loss to a team which had beaten the Warriors earlier in the tournament.

“We scheduled a tough non-league,” Peng said. “I’d like to think the experience will hopefully help us.”

Fallbrook’s first match following the Palm Desert Tournament took place September 22 at Carlsbad High School. The Lancers won in four games, taking the first game by a 25-16 score.

The Warriors narrowed Carlsbad’s winning margin to 25-22 in the second game, won the third game by a 26-24 score, and took the Lancers to an overscore before losing the fourth and final game by a 27-25 margin.

“We’re just close but not quite there yet,” Peng said.

On September 24 the Warriors hosted Santa Fe Christian, who won the 2007 and 2008 state Division IV championships.

“They basically carved us up. They’re an excellent ball control team,” Peng said. “They controlled the tempo most of the time. [Coach Gail Malone] did a good job with that team.”

The Eagles took a 25-11 victory in the first game. “We don’t usually start off very strong,” Peng said.

Santa Fe Christian won the next two games by 25-19 and 25-21 margins. One of the highlights for Fallbrook was the return of opposite hitter Roxanne Barnes-Smith, who played in a match for the first time since spraining her ankle in the season opener September 11 at Mount Carmel.

Illness would deprive Peng of part of his team the following week. The September 28 practice was cancelled due to insufficient players despite a match at Rancho Buena Vista the following day. Four of the Warriors players didn’t make the trip to Vista for that match.

The Longhorns took 25-16, 25-19, and 25-15 victories. “They were just too deep,” Peng said. “That’s just a good team.”

All seven of Fallbrook’s losses, including the Palm Desert Tournament loss to Jurupa Valley, have been to teams which reached the CIF playoffs in 2008, and six of those teams won at least one playoff match as did Ramona, the only CIF San Diego Section team Fallbrook played in the Palm Desert Tournament.

Jurupa Valley, Santa Fe Christian, and Carlsbad were 2008 league champions.

The tough opposition will continue through Avocado League competition. All six league teams reached the 2008 CIF Division I playoffs, and the finals were between Avocado League opponents La Costa Canyon and Torrey Pines.

La Costa Canyon won both the San Diego Section and the state Division I championships.

“Every game’s a learning situation, and every opponent we face is dramatically different,” Peng said. “I’ve got to believe this experience is going to pay off.”


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