Mental game stymies Wolfpack in final preseason match

Claremont High School volleyball players Brianna De La Cruz, left, and Brenna Kusleika, right, listen to assistant coach Destiney Mebane give instructions during a timeout in the third set of Tuesday’s home fixture against St. Lucy’s. The team fell 3-1 in their final preseason match and will travel to Glendora to open up Palomares League play on Thursday. COURIER photo/Andrew Alonzo

by Andrew Alonzo |

The Claremont High School girls varsity volleyball team struggled to keep St. Lucy’s at bay Tuesday evening, losing 3-1 at home in their final preseason game.

The Regents were hoping to bounce back from their previous loss against Glendora. It was obvious they came to play against the Wolfpack. Though St. Lucy’s played well, sloppy errors and a drop in the mental part of the game doomed Claremont.

“Mentality is all of volleyball. You have your physical play and your talent, but if you don’t have the mental component, then you don’t have a game,” senior middle blocker Brenna Kusleika said. Brenna finished the game with one dig, four kills and four aces from the serve.

The opening two sets were a rollercoaster ride.

During the first, Claremont looked lackadaisical and allowed St. Lucy’s to establish a commanding 11-3 lead at one point. The Wolfpack hung in, but the Regents were still able to carve out a 10-point gap, 20-10, late in the first.

The double-digit deficit woke the Pack, and they began to chip away at the Regents’ lead, closing the gap to just four points at 24-20. But a Wolfpack serve that went out gave St. Lucy’s the opening set.

Claremont roared back in the second. Down 4-1 to open things up, the team responded by going on a nine-point streak, prompting St. Lucy’s to regroup with a timeout.

Fans watching the second set saw a laser focused Wolfpack team that didn’t let their lead slip again, dominating to win 25-13.

“We just focused on our side and focused on what we had to do,” freshman blocker Olivia Roberts said. “The sideline was cheering and we just had so much more energy than we did in the first set as a team.”

Olivia finished the game with one dig, five kills and one attacking error.

Claremont High School freshman middle blocker Olivia Roberts tips the ball over to St. Lucy’s side of the court during Tuesday’s home match. In the final preseason match, the team fell 3-1 against the Regents. Olivia finished the game with one dig, one attack attempt, five kills and one attacking error. The team travels to Glendora to open up Palomares League play on Thursday. COURIER photo/Andrew Alonzo


After two sets the score was tied at 1-1 and Claremont looked to be in control. But due to tired legs, a drop in focus and the loss of encouragement from the crowd, the Regents took control.

“Somehow after that game we were like, ‘Okay, we got that lead.’ And then somehow the energy dropped. We kind of chilled out and that’s when the St. Lucy’s team wanted to fight back their most,” Brenna said. “I think that our energy dropped and that means that play drops, and so overall … it was our own mistakes that lead to our demise rather than their good play.”

The second set would be the only one the Wolfpack dominated. St. Lucy’s sunk the Wolfpack by a score of 25-14 in the third, and 25-15 in the fourth to snag the victory.

By the fourth set, Olivia said the team was gassed and was not playing as a cohesive unit.

“We weren’t playing as a team, more like individuals,” she said. “We were saying what we needed to do, but nobody was actually getting it done on the court and so it just broke down.”

The loss came in the Pack’s final preseason game ahead of Palomares League play, which they opened up after press time on Thursday with a trip to Glendora.

The result left the Wolfpack with an overall 2-3 record, but players aren’t worried too much about recent results, instead focused on correcting core mistakes by the time league gets underway.

“We should just use this game to motivate us for our next game and just to really push us,” said senior libero Stephanie Roumi added, who finished four sets with eight digs and one dig error.

“We want to make sure that we’re just continuing to level up our play rather than just throwing this game away,” Brenna said.

Assistant coach Destiney Mebane stepped in for the absent head coach Alexa Block. She said despite the loss, positives were taken.

“We came back from a deficit the first game, although we didn’t win. It just shows them the potential that we do have as a team,” Mebane said. “Our season’s just starting. For every game we play, we’re getting better.”


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