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Warriors second in final league volleyball standings

Joe Naiman

Village News Reporter

Fallbrook High School’s girls volleyball team placed second in the 2022 Valley League standings.

The Warriors were 7-3 in league matches. Their regular-season record was 20-18 which became 20-19 when Fallbrook lost a first-round CIF Division II playoff match Oct. 26 at Pacific Ridge.

“Great season,” said Fallbrook coach Chip Patterson. “We could have been a little bit better.”

Specifically, the Warriors could have been more successful in serve-receive situations. “Our serve-receive was the killer,” Patterson said.

“We would give away a lot of points on serve-receive,” Patterson said. “It was just frustrating to no end.”

Junior setter Claire Nordeen had 408 of the team’s 471 assists during the season. Nordeen’s 81 serving aces were three times the 27 aces of senior Malia Dabney, who was second on the team in that statistic. Nordeen also led the team with 148 digs. “She couldn’t do it all,” Patterson said. “She tried.”

Nordeen’s 29 blocks placed second on the team behind senior Harley Benitez, who had 40. Benitez led the Warriors with 124 kills while Nordeen was fourth in that statistic with 84.

Mount Carmel won the Valley League championship with an 8-2 record. The Sundevils won their first six league matches before losing Oct. 12 at Fallbrook, whose league season began with a Sept. 20 loss at Mount Carmel. The Warriors took a 4-2 league record into the Oct. 12 match after three-game victories Oct. 4 at home against Valley Center and Oct. 5 at Mission Hills.

The 21-25, 25-19, 25-19, 25-23 win over Mount Carmel gave Fallbrook a 5-2 league record entering the final week of the regular season. Benitez had 11 kills Oct. 12 while Nordeen had seven. Nordeen, Benitez, and senior Bailee Aguila each had five aces while Dabney served four aces. Dabney had seven of the team’s 10 blocks. Nordeen led the Warriors with 14 digs while junior Alexa Van Eik had 11. Nordeen contributed 26 assists with Van Eik providing four others.

“That night they played extremely well,” Patterson said. “It wasn’t like they barely beat Mount Carmel.”

Oct. 14 was homecoming for Fallbrook High School, so Patterson and San Pasqual coach Todd Goodwin agreed to move Fallbrook’s game at San Pasqual to Oct. 17. Fallbrook prevailed in 25-16, 25-20, and 25-18 sets.

A Sept. 30 event at Fallbrook caused that day’s match between Fallbrook and Escondido to be moved to the Cougars’ court with the Oct. 19 location being changed from Escondido to Fallbrook. The Warriors, who lost to Escondido in five games Sept. 30, won the Oct. 19 match by a 25‑19, 25-12, 25-17 score. Benitez led the Warriors with 13 kills while Aguila had nine and Dabney contributed eight. Benitez and Nordeen each had four aces with Aguila, Dabney, and sophomore Ellie Workman adding three apiece. Nordeen and Dabney shared the team lead with four blocks. Nordeen had 13 digs with Dabney providing 11, Aguila contributing 10, Benitez and Van Eik having nine apiece, and sophomore Samantha Valdez recording eight digs. Nordeen had 32 assists.

Mission Hills hosted Mount Carmel on Oct. 19 and defeated the Sundevils in three games. That was the second league loss of the year for Mount Carmel, so a Fallbrook win Oct. 21 at home against Mission Hills would have given the Warriors a share of the league title. Because Fallbrook won the second round of league play against Mount Carmel, a co-championship would have made Fallbrook the designated league champion for purposes of a guaranteed CIF home playoff match.

A four-match Mission Hills league losing streak was followed by the Grizzlies taking three-game victories over Valley Center and Escondido as well as Mount Carmel. The Grizzlies thus entered the match against Fallbrook with a 5-4 league record.

“Mission Hills stopped us from being league champs,” Patterson said.

Fallbrook prevailed in the 25-22 first game. Mission Hills responded with 25‑23, 25-22, and 25-23 wins.

“It was us with self-inflicted wounds,” Patterson said.

The CIF playoff selection and seeding meeting Sept. 22 gave Pacific Ridge the fifth seed in the Division II playoffs and Fallbrook the 12th seed. Pacific Ridge finished second in the Pacific League, so the Firebirds didn’t have an automatic home playoff match, but they were a higher seed than Fallbrook, so the Warriors traveled to Carlsbad for the playoff.

The Firebirds defeated Fallbrook in three games. The first set had a 25-9 score. “They couldn’t find themselves,” Patterson said of his team.

Serve-received failed Fallbrook as the Firebirds had 14 aces in the 25-9, 25-21, 25-19 match.

Aguila, Benitez, and Dabney were Fallbrook’s only seniors on the team. “Those seniors will be missed,” Patterson said.

 

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