End of the Road

by staff May 21, 2018

Saratoga, CA – The post season run for the Rams beach volleyball duos of Katia Dizon/Emily Jensen as well as Mikeila Banda/Haley Leifheit came to an end on day one of the CCCCAA Beach Volleyball Pairs Championships. The top 32 pairs in the state took part in the two day event championship. Day one consisted of pool play between four teams. The top two teams from each pool would move on a single elimination bracket on Saturday.

Dizon and Jensen started the day off bright and early for Gavilan. Going into to their pool, they were the third ranked team and opened with a familiar opponent, the No. 2 team from Cabrillo College of Hall and Wilson. This was the match of the pool going the distance, back and forth action. The Rams took the first set 24-22 fighting off two set points. The next set went to the Seahawks 21-17. In the final set the Rams were just not able to get over the hump and take the lead, after pulling even multiple times during the set. A late run by the Cabrillo team gave them a 15-11 win.

In their second match of the day, Dizon and Jensen took on the only pair from Riverside College.  This match would be a struggle for the pair of Rams as a pre-existing injury creped up on Dizon that would affect her throughout the rest of the day. Aware of this, the Riverside team used the injury to their advantage in a straight set 21-18, 21-17 victory. This loss ensured the Rams of no better than third place in their pool, meaning they couldn't advance to day two.

Exhausted and fighting through pain, Dizon and Jensen took the court for their final match of the State Championships. With the sun now high overhead, the temperature was now 20 degrees hotter than it was for their first they took on the pair from College of the Desert, located in Palm Springs. Unable to find their rhythm, the Rams lost the first set 21-14. The second set was a battle of attrition, as the pair from the Desert began to feel the heat. It was just enough for Dizon and Jensen to take the set 25-23.  It was more of the same in the third set as both teams fought the heat, themselves and each other. Somehow pushing the pain to the back of her mind Dizon was able to play some of her best volleyball since the first match of the day, leading the way to a 15-13 set win.

The pair by winning the match made program history by winning the programs first match in this tournament. In the three previous beach volleyball championships, Gavilan sent teams to the event, and came out of it winless in all three years.

In the afternoon session of pool play, the duo of Banda and Leifheit took their turn at a chance of a state championship. The number one ranked team in their pool they began the day facing off with another common opponent, the No. 2 team from West Valley- Henderson and Wright. From the start, the pair from West Valley seemed to have all the answers defensively to whatever the Rams had for them. If it was a hard hit ball or a cross court dink, Banda and Leifheit were not able to see their balls hit the sand. This helped the Vikings to 21-15 first set win. The second set was closer and the Rams found their rhythm, and tighten their defense. However, their opponent still continued to play slightly better to keep a one to two point lead throughout the set. The pair from Gavilan just ran out of set to be played, ultimately dropping the second set 23-21, thus losing the match.

In the second match of pool play, Banda and Leifheit took on the only pair from El Camino College, Leilua and Waters. In the first set of the match, Banda and Leifheit struggled to find ways to break through El Camino’s defense. Despite trailing most of the set, Banda and Leifheit started to find some rhythm offensively but it wasn’t enough to win the set dropping it 21-16. The duo from Gavilan started the second set strong as the action picked up with both team playing at a high level, leading early on in the set.  It was a back and forth from the middle of the set on, until El Camino was able to go on a late run to finish the set and match by a score of 22-20.

When it became time to play their final match of the day, not only were the Rams out of contention, the pool had already been decided. The team from MiraCosta College had already clinched first place in the pool and having played in three matches the day before in the team competition; they decided to forfeit the final match of pool play. This was their way of getting rest for the single elimination bracket that was to be played the next day. This gave the Rams a win in pool play, but also signaled the end of a great season.