Dons Volleyball Thrive and Survive in League Challenge

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When a team plays to its strengths, the expectations are that good things will happen. For the Verdugo Hills Dons and the John Francis Poly Parrots, playing to their strengths meant a matchup of polar opposites where only one team could claim victory. Though the Dons swept the Monday evening matchup 3-0, none of the three matches could be called an easy victory. “We have two opposite teams,” said Coach Will Reinhart said, “They are small, quick, aggressive, very good at passing and defense. We’re bigger, (a step) slower, (and play with power).”

The Dons jumped out to a 10-0 lead in the first set behind Yahaira Vazquez serving and setting, but the Parrots found a way to battle back, actually tying the Dons the rest of the way 15-15 for a 25-15 Dons victory. The second set was much more of a back and forth affair, before the Dons pulled ahead and held on to win 25-20. In the third set, the Parrots showed just how aggressive and tenacious they could be, jumping out to a lead they eventually stretched to 4 points. Poly did not want to relinquish the lead, and kept battling as the Dons fought their way back. The Dons eventually took a 23-22 point lead, and held on for a 25-23 victory. “What they did to us, we had trouble with,” stated Reinhart, speaking to how competitive the match was “and what we did to them they had trouble with.”

The Dons were again led by cousins Ana Vasquez and Yahaira Vazquez, and received strong contributions from Jocelyn Lopez, Marissa Mcleland, Sonia Kaczer and Maria Vukic. Vasquez returned from nursing an ankle injury to record 14 kills, 1 block and 19 digs. “Ana started really strong, and she looked good out there.” Lopez, nursing a thumb injury she reaggravated last week against Arleta High School, finished with 4 kills, 2 blocks, 1 assist and 10 digs. Mcleland added 4 kills, 1 assist, and 2 blocks. Vukic finished with 2 kills, 5 assists, 1 block, 1 ace and 1 dig, while Kaczer had 3 kills, but contributed in many ways that don’t show up on the statsheet. Reinhart called Kaczer a “spark plug for us,” and he went on to add, “she gave us a big boost.”

The Dons have 2 more big matchups this week with a visit to Canoga Park on Wednesday, followed by their strongest league challenge when Grant High School visits on Thursday. Reinhart knows it will take a strong effort for the Dons to emerge victorious. “We’re relying on our talent to win, and that could burn us. Today it almost did.” If Reinhart has his way, a dialed in and focused Dons team could exit the week with 3 more wins, riding high heading towards the second half of the season.

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