On Oct. 8, the Nipomo girls volleyball team was taken to the limit in a very competitive match by Lompoc before finally pulling in out in five games.
Since then the Titans have been on a roll, winning five of their last six Los Padres League matches, which included a win over second place Templeton.
On Thursday, the rematch was tight throughout, put the Titans were able to win in three sets, 25-17, 27-25, 25-21 at Paisola Pavilion.
“We have become a better team,” said Nipomo coach David Cassidy. “I switched the lineup a little bit because we were short one of our middles, who was away at an FFA convention back east.
“So we had to be real flexible with our lineup and the girls have been very resilient — they are playing well together.”
With fine performances by kill leaders Sammie Baker, with 11, and Taylor Nevitt, at seven, Nipomo made fewer errors in finishing off Lompoc in the last match of the regular season.
Nipomo jumped out to a 10-4 lead early in the first set and was never tied after that, although Lompoc had a few runs to get close. Leading by a 19-16 score, Nipomo’s Madison Elliott had three service winners in a row to make the score22-16, then Baker had the final three service winners to close out the set.
In the second set, Lompoc took a 20-16 lead, but Elliott had a run of six points to give the Titans a 22-21 lead. Lompoc’s Lauren Powell tied the game at 22 with an ace and teammate Lexie Barbosa gave the Braves a short-lived 25-24 lead, before Lacey LeBlanc nailed a pair of service winners to break a 25-all tie.
Lompoc jumped out early in the third set, but Nipomo took a 5-4 lead and led until Lompoc regained the lead at 16-15. That was the last time the Braves led, although the teams were tied at 18 and 20.
“There were a couple of times in the second and third sets where we actually had the lead at 15 or 16, then we made a bunch of errors in a row,” said Lompoc coach Aaron Batula. “Now some of it was because Nipomo made some really good shots, but mental errors at a critical time in the game really costs you.
“Every volleyball team is going to make mistakes, but if you make them at a critical time in the match, it kills you and that is what happened tonight.”
Elliott ended the match with three straight kills to end the Lompoc LPL season at 3-9.
“Madison only plays front row,” Cassidy said. “She is not an overwhelming hitter but she places the ball well.”
Nipomo, has clinched third place in the LPL and stands at 8-3, with one last match Tuesday against Cabrillo. They will find out their CIF playoff position when the brackets are released on Friday, Nov. 8.
While he is happy with the way his team is playing right now, Cassidy knows that the playoffs will not be easy.
“We need to get a little more serious on the court, a little more serious in our practices,” he explained. “But right now they are playing so well, it’s hard to fault them with anything right now.
“They all like each other — it’s just a great team — they are fun to coach.”
Batula had several high points and saw great improvement in his team, despite few wins.
“I’m really proud of my kids, they’ve hung tough all year long,” Batula said. “We are definitely playing better volleyball then we did even a couple years ago.
“We are getting the kids to buy into the fact that we are trying to build a better program here and to buy into the fact that they can play good volleyball.”
Lompoc finishes its season with home match Monday against Mission Prep. Nipomo will host Cabrillo on Tuesday.
Local teams fail to advance at CIF-SS Divisionals
The Righetti Warriors’ girls golf team finished in 11th place out of 13 teams at Thursday’s CIF Southern Section Northern Team Divisionals at Soule Park in Ojai.
As a team, Righetti, the PAC 7 champions, shot a 506 in the 18 hole event.
Lauren Reade shot a 95 to lead the Warriors. She was followed by Melanie Johnson (96), Lauren Reynoso (102), Melissa Sobczak (105), Imanie Patel (108) and Miki Kagawa (110) in the Warriors’ final match of the season. Samantha Bettiga was injured and missed the tournament.
“We didn’t have our best round today but our girls had a great season,” said coach Brian Tomooka. “This group has been together for the past three years and they’ve come a long way to be able to win the PAC 7 title this year. Our seniors — seniors are Melanie, Lauren (Reynoso), Miki and Samantha — have been great. They should be proud of their high school golf careers. It’s been a lot of fun coaching them.”
Los Padres League champion Cabrillo finished in 12th place with a team score of 522.
Gaby Baumgardner led the Conquistadores with a 96, followed by Roselei Redrick (97), Bailey Belluz (107), Baylee Gregory (109) and Aiden Badua (113)
Diamond Bar shot a 360 to win the Divisional title. Walnut High (371) finished second with Notre Dame High (397) finishing third.
All three advance to the CIF Southern Section finals.