In a battle between two evenly-matched teams, the Valley Center varsity girls volleyball team pulled out a come-from-behind win over Mission Hills at home on Thursday.
The two teams pushed the match nearly to its regulation maximum, as neither team scored fewer than 18 points in a game and the average margin of victory for a game was only six points.
In the end, the Lady Jaguars pulled out a 3–2 victory, with game scores of 23–25, 25–18, 24–26, 25–21, 15–12.
The win marks the Lady Jags' first victory since a 2–1 win over Poly High in the Beach City Invitational Tournament on Sept. 27.
To get the win, Valley Center methodically came back from a two-point loss in game one to outlast the Lady Grizzlies down the stretch.
"We played together as a team," head coach Bill Dunckel said after the win. "We had good communication all the way through and we were getting our serves in. It was important that we weren't committing as many unforced errors. (Mission Hills) had to earn it."
Valley Center started out the match with a three-point run, but Mission Hills fought back slowly but surely to tie the game at 17. The game was still tied at 23, but the Lady Grizzlies scored twice in a row to take game one 25–23.
In game two, Mission Hills jumped out to a 4–1 lead early on, but Valley Center went on a 6–1 run before the Lady Grizzlies scored again. Valley Center pushed out to a 17–9 lead midway through the game, and even though Mission Hills came back to within four at 22–18, the Lady Jags shut down the comeback attempt with three straight points to tie the match at two games apiece.
Neither team could build a lead greater than four points in the next game until the game was tied at 13. The points went back-and-forth for a while until Mission Hills looked to have things under control with a 23–19 lead.
But with their backs against the wall at 20–24, Valley Center rallied and tied the game at 24 before Mission Hills could finally put the game away with a 26–24 win to lead the match 2–1.
The Lady Grizzlies were positioned to put the match away late in the third game, as they built a 19–15 lead. But the Lady Jags rattled off seven consecutive points, including three kills from Jen Casillas, to pull ahead 22–19. Savanna Reilly put the game away with two consecutive kills to give Valley Center a 25–21 win and send the match into a tiebreaker.
The Lady Jaguars pulled out to an 8–4 lead early in the tiebreaker, but Mission Hills rallied back to tie the game at ten. The Lady Jaguars pulled ahead with the next two points, then kept the Lady Grizzlies at bay and finished off the game with another kill by Casillas to take a 15–12 win for the match victory.
"This is definitely a step in the right direction," Coach Dunckel added. "We've got a weird schedule so we only play seven home games this season. But the crowd definitely played a part in helping us get the win. We've got some young players, but we're finding the right mix. They're hanging tough and working hard. We've got a great group, and I love coaching this team."
The Lady Jaguars play again on Tuesday at home against Ramona at 4:45 p.m.