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Warrior spikers place third in final league standings

Lose to Centurions in playoff opener

Joe Naiman

Village News Reporter

Fallbrook High School’s girls volleyball team finished third in the final Palomar League standings.

The Warriors had a 6-4 record during league play. Mount Carmel High School also had a 6-4 league record, but Fallbrook defeated Mount Carmel twice while also defeating Ramona and Escondido high schools two times apiece. Mission Vista and Vista high schools both had 8-2 records and split their league matches against each other, and both of those teams also split their matches with Mount Carmel while sweeping Fallbrook.

“We have worked hard all season in a very competitive league,” Fallbrook co-captain Claire Nordeen said.

“I think we had a really good team,” co-captain Alexa Van Eik said. “We had a lot of games that we really battled.

The Warriors’ final overall record of 23-14 reflects a first-round loss in the CIF Division II playoffs. The Warriors had the eighth seed among Division II teams and lost an Oct. 24 home match to ninth-seeded University City High School.

“The season was a special season,” Fallbrook coach Chip Patterson said.

“It’s unfortunate that it had to end this way, but we have a really young team,” Van Eik said.

Nordeen, Van Eik, Brianna Jesus and Allie Stelma were the only seniors on the Warriors roster. Three of the varsity players are freshman and two of those were in the starting lineup.

Fallbrook began Palomar League play Sept. 20, with a 25-19, 25-21, 25-19 home loss against Vista. The Sept. 22 match at Mission Vista was a 25-16, 25-22, 25-20 Timberwolves victory. The Warriors’ Sept. 25 home match against Escondido ended as a 25-19, 25-10, 24-26, 25-18 Fallbrook triumph. A Sept. 27 trip to Ramona resulted in a 25-17, 25-16, 25-13 Warriors win. Fallbrook concluded the first round of league play Oct. 4, with a 26-24, 25-20, 25-22 victory at Mount Carmel.

Westview High School hosted the 20th annual Southern California Invitational tournament Oct. 6-7. Pool play was held Oct. 6, and the Warriors won their pool. Dimond High School of Anchorage, which subsequently won the 4A Cook Inlet League championship and prevailed in 36 matches during the regular season, incurred one of their 10 regular-season losses against Fallbrook when the Warriors won two of the three sets. Fallbrook defeated Holy Trinity High School, who made the trip from Canada, in two games.

Winning their pool placed the Warriors into the Gold Bracket for Oct. 7 play, but their first match was against Flagstaff High School, who subsequently won the tournament and later 4A Grand Canyon League championship. The Eagles, whose final regular-season record was 29-8, overcame a 25-27 Fallbrook triumph in the first set and won 25-19 and 15-8 games to earn a semifinal match against La Jolla High School and subsequently a championship match in which Flagstaff defeated Santiago High School of Corona. La Jolla had defeated La Costa Canyon High School, who subsequently played Fallbrook. The Warriors defeated La Costa Canyon in the 25-23 first game. The Mavericks were on the winning end of the 25-23 final score in game two. Fallbrook won the match with a 15-9 victory in the third set.

League play for Fallbrook resumed Oct. 9, with a 25-15, 22-25, 25-19, 25-23 loss at Vista. Mission Vista won the Oct. 11 match at Fallbrook by a 25-20, 25-22, 25-14 score. Fallbrook hosted Ramona Oct. 13, and defeated the Bulldogs in 25-4, 25-22, and 25-20 games. The Oct. 18 match at Escondido was a 25-21, 25-22, 25-17 Fallbrook triumph.

The Warriors closed out league and regular-season play Oct. 20, at home against Mount Carmel and won in five games. After Fallbrook won the 25-22 first set, the Sundevils took 25-23 and 25-22 wins. Fallbrook won game four by a 25-22 margin. If a fifth game is needed it is played to 15 points with the requirement that a team win by at least two points. Fallbrook held a 14-12 lead in the final set before Mount Carmel scored twice to tie that game. The Sundevils took an 18-17 lead but were not able to capitalize on match point as Fallbrook scored three points in a row for a 20-18 win.

It gave Fallbrook three straight victories to end the regular season.

“The string of wins that we put together really meant a lot to myself and our program,” Nordeen said.

The Western League included University City, Cathedral Catholic, La Jolla, Point Loma and Our Lady of Peace high schools. Cathedral Catholic won the league and was given the top seed in the Open Division during the Oct. 21 CIF playoff selection and seeding meeting. Point Loma and La Jolla played in the Division I playoffs. Our Lady of Peace was seeded fourth in Division II. University City was 1-7 in Western League play, but the Centurions had a regular-season record of 19-12.

The playoff selection and seeding meeting gave Fallbrook the final first-round home match with University City traveling to the school seeded immediately above.

“We’re both right there,” Patterson said.

Fallbrook had leads of 2-0 and 5-1 in the first game before the Centurions tied the score and took a 7-5 lead. Fallbrook tied the score at 7-7, the Centurions took an 8-7 lead, Fallbrook scored twice for a 9-8 advantage, University City scored two points for a 10-9 lead, a Fallbrook point created a 10-10 score, the Centurions scored for another lead, Fallbrook scored three times for a 13-11 advantage, five University City points made the score 16-13 in the Centurions’ favor and an exchange of points created a 17-14 score. After a sideout, Fallbrook freshman Grace Nordeen served and gave the Warriors another seven points for a 22-17 lead. University City was eventually able to tie the score at 23-23, but a sideout gave Fallbrook set point and a kill by freshman Taylor Thomas gave the Warriors a 25-23 win in game one.

The Warriors had early leads in the second game and were ahead by a 7-3 margin at one point. Six consecutive points gave University City an 11-8 lead and the Centurions also had leads of 14-9 and 19-14. Fallbrook tied the score at 21-21 before the Centurions scored three points. A pair of ensuing sideouts resulted in a 25-22 University City win in the second set.

University City obtained the first five points of the third game and held the lead throughout. The final score was 25-16.

The fourth game had tied scores of 2-2 and 5-5. University City scored five points for a 10-5 lead. The Centurions had a 16-10 advantage before Fallbrook scored six consecutive points, including two serving aces by Stelma, to tie the score. University City then scored four points in a row. Fallbrook narrowed the deficit to 21-20 before the Centurions scored four times for a 25-20 victory which also gave University City the match.

“I think the girls played really well today. They came together as a team and they pushed it through,” University City coach David Lau said. “My setters did a great job of getting the ball in there. My outsides did a good job of putting the ball away.”

There are two ways a team can end its season with a win: by winning the state championship or by winning the regular-season finale but not making the playoffs. Claire Nordeen thus put the playoff loss into perspective.

“One more game than everybody else,” she said.

“Tonight, that team executed better than we did,” Patterson said. “It comes down to execution. We didn’t execute well. We didn’t get the read. We didn’t pick up a lot of balls.”

Last year Fallbrook had the 12th seed in the Division II playoffs and the Warriors lost their first-round match in three games. Fallbrook was in the Valley League for 2022 and had a 7-3 league record. Fallbrook’s final 2022 record was 20-19 including the playoff loss, so the 2023 Warriors had a better record than last year’s team.

“Overall, it was a great season,” Patterson said. “I’m proud of them.”

Joe Naiman can be reached by email at [email protected].

 

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