The girls volleyball team (5-8 overall, 1-1 Peninsula Athletic League) fell to Burlingame (8-5 overall, 2-0 PAL) in four sets, winning the second set 25-15 and losing the other three by scores of 23-25, 17-25 and 20-25, respectively.
The game was a battle between two similarly-skilled teams. Both the Dons and the Panthers had consistent serving. The Panthers and Dons only missed five and seven serves, respectively. Similarly, both teams brought a strong defense.
“I think we did well on blocking, serve receive and defense because the hitters were hitting really well,” said junior defensive specialist Abbygail Legaspi.
Burlingame excelled at hitting, challenging Aragon’s strong defense. The Panthers swung fast and their hits were angled sharply down, propelling them to get at least 10 kills in each set of the match.
The Dons proved to be strong hitters as well. However, their momentum in hitting slowed down as the match continued. In the first set, Aragon hit 17 kills, six of which were from well-placed tips. Though not as strong as the first set, the Dons still hit 14 kills in the second set, but in the third and fourth sets, they were unable to hit more than nine.
“[We need to work on] staying consistent and being able to finish out a match,” said head coach Kelsey Stiles. “[The players] need to stay together even if they get tired.”
What set the Dons and the Panthers apart was the Panthers’ consistent energy. The first set was a close match, 23-25, but a win for the Panthers. The Dons came out more aggressive in the second set with a lead of 12-4 that propelled them to their second set victory, 25-15. However, in the third and fourth sets, Aragon’s energy was inconsistent and the Dons lost 17-25 and 20-25, giving the Panthers the three wins they needed to walk out with a win.
“It was a good game, but I think in two of the four matches, we started off too slow,” said senior captain and middle blocker Lille Tuivailala. “Our intensity dropped many times. It wasn’t consistent.”
Aside from consistency, the Dons are focusing on improving their front row hitters.
“Our defense for the first time in a long time has been really really solid, so we’re working with our outside hitters and our front row [on] executing and putting the ball away, and blocking so they can help the back row,” said Stiles.
This year’s team has notably younger players than previous seasons. Last year, of the 13 players, all but four were upperclassmen, and current sophomore and middle blocker Madison Campbell was the only freshman. This year, eight of the 13 players are upperclassmen, and the team has two freshmen: right side hitter and middle blocker Ella Sears and outside and right side hitter Amanda Patea.
“Sometimes we really just have to stop and go back to basics because we do have a younger team,” said Stiles. “We’ve got to focus on things some older players may not have to worry about.”
However, Tuivailala does not believe that the younger team and five new players will hinder the team’s cohesiveness.
“We lost [four] major seniors last year,” said Tuivailala. “It’s definitely big shoes to fill, but we all mesh really well and we’re definitely really excited.”
The Dons also played Menlo-Atherton on Sept. 19, but the game was past the Outlook’s deadline.