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Volleyball beats Liberty, complete undefeated WSL season

Fall semester 2005
Girls’ volleyball overall record is 15-2 and 14-0 in the WSL. Tournament scores do not count towards overall record. Volleyball completed a perfect WSL season by beating Liberty-Madera Ranchos. Volleyball lost its opening round CIF Central Section Division 5 playoffs to Coast Union on Nov. 8.

Coast Union defeated the Eagles, 3-2, in the opening round of the CIF Central Section Division 5 playoffs on Nov. 8. The five-set match (25-22, 14-25, 27-29, 25-21, 7-15) kept both teams on their heels. This was the second time in a month the teams met with the Broncos winning both matches.

In a night dedicated to the campus seniors, Kassy Batesole and Tara Albrechtson, it just seemed fitting they would dominate their final home regular season match. With a packed house watching, Batesole and Albrechtson consistently kept the Eagle faithful cheering throughout the 3-0 straight-set win against the Hawks of Liberty-Madera Ranchos on Nov. 3.

Throughout game one, Liberty traded kills and sideouts with the Eagles in an evenly played contest. However, a few timely Batesole kills late and a strong Albrechtson service return turned the tide and FC won game one, 25-19. Yet Liberty did not bow out easily.

“We all knew that the match against Liberty was going to be huge,” Albrechtson said. “Liberty is an amazing volleyball team and we knew they would give us a fight. Our fans helped energize us and our execution followed.”

The Hawks seemed spirited in game two and led 17-13 when Albrechtson again served the Eagles out of trouble and seemed to deflate Liberty. FC won game two 25-18.

“Tara served five straight points in the second game and we regained the lead and took it to them from there,” coach Larry Orender said shaking his head. “She did it again. Tara seemes to calm our side when she stands back there. We never looked back and took the match.”

Albrechtson finished the match with 24 assists and 1 dig.

“Serving is a very important part of volleyball and coach ‘O has definitely prepared us to do our best,” Albrechtson said. “When I serve, I try to block out everything besides the serve. I try to relax because I know if I get distractions into my head I’ll mess up.”

After Albrechtson tied the score, it was Batesole who put away the Hawks with her punishing 18 kills.

“Kassy poured it on as the game wore on,” coach Orender said. “Kassy and Kelsey Marston each had a power punch tonight and we did not let down all night. Both seniors played inspired volleyball and uplifted us.”

Batesole finished the match adding 3 digs and 2 blocked shots to her 18 kills.

“The thing that struck me most this game was how hard our team came out with a fight and we never lost our fire,” Batesole said. “Coach ‘O once told me that even if we play a superior team with more talent, we can still win if we have more fight and passion than they do. We beat a good team with our talent but we shut them out because of our heart and fire on the court.”

Marston added 8 more kills and 2 blocked shots to a formidable front line that also included Melanie Nachtigall. Nachtigall moved from side to side and often came from the back to dig and had 8 kills as well. She finished the match with 7 digs to lead all players.

“Kelsey (Marston) played amazing tonight,” Batesole added. “She has always played hard and has continued to improve. She has the same kind of hunger to get better and that will make her a team leader.”

FC won game three 25-12 as Liberty fell behind early and seemed resigned to go home early as time and again Batesole, Nachtigall and Marston hammered home kills.

“This was our best match all year,” coach Orender said. “We executed well and had continual energy on the court and from the girls on the bench. The packed house also created momentum.”

FC will go on the road for the CIF Central Section Division 5 playoffs to face Coast Union on Nov. 8. Even thought the Eagles were undefeated in the WSL, they lost to Coast Union in non-league play. The Eagles are seeded No. 5 and will open the playoffs in Cambria at 7 P.M. Bakersfield Christian is currently the No. 1 ranked team.

In what has become routine, the Eagles swept the Mendota Aztecs, 3-0, (25-11, 25-21, 25-20) on Nov. 1. This was their fifth straight three-game win. Kassy Batesole and Melanie Nachtigall each had 7 kills while Christina Cabias and Jessica Berg each added 6 kills. Cabias also added 9 aces.

The team spoke briefly before game-time about the five-game match on Oct. 6 and were determined not to repeat a letdown. The team however remains unbeaten in the WSL.

“Never again, never again,” Tara Albrechtson said.

Albrechtson continued her leadership on the floor with 25 assists and 6 aces.

“The seniors have made some incredible contributions this season, especially down the stretch,” coach Larry Orender said. “Without Tara’s leadership, we would not have been able to have such a successful season. She leads by serving others as much on the court as off and it has been a pleasure to coach a person of her character.”

The volleyball team plays its last regular season game on Nov. 3 against Liberty-Madera Ranchos starting at 5:30 P.M.

FC spent the weekend at Buchanan High School on Oct. 28-29 and went 2-4 against teams mostly from Division III schools in the annual Central California Challenge. The teams only play the best out of three matches in the tournament. The Eagles did not qualify for the championship round.

POOL PLAY on Oct. 29:
FC LOST TO EXETER, 14-25, 13-25
FC LOST TO CENTRAL, 25-23, 20-25, 5-15

POOL PLAY on Oct. 28:
FC LOST TO YOSEMITE 20-25, 20-25

The Eagles defeated Fowler, 3-0, (25-22, 25-16, 25-10) on Oct. 27. Kassy Batesole had 18 kills, Christina Cabias had 4 aces and 7 digs and Tara Albrechtson set 27 assists.

Whether playing at home or traveling over an hour to a western Fresno County school, FC continues to roll over its West Sierra League opponents. The Eagles defeated the Tigers, 3-0, (25-11, 25-23, 25-14) at home on Oct. 25 to continue its torrid march toward a WSL title. They have a two-match lead over Liberty-Madera Ranchos.

While the third straight-set win in a row was unimpressive at times, the Eagles did dominate the statistics with strong team net play. Tranquillity did respond at times with some intense rallies but FC made the most of their opportunities and put away the Tigers.

“Volleyball is all about siding out so we can get a server who can string together three or four tough aces,” coach Larry Orender said. “It is like two boxers trading jabs biding their time until one can land a power punch.”

While Tranquillity traded rallies with the Eagles, it was FC’s dominance at the net, which ultimately punched out the Tigers; the Eagles made 40 kills over the three games to put away the match.

Kelsey Marston?s 10 kills led FC on 12 attempts and 2 blocked shots; Kassy Batesole’s 15 kills on 23 attempts and 4 aces; Tara Albrechtson’s 32 assists. She had 34 assists against Liberty on Oct. 11. Kally Batesole also finished the match with 2 straight aces.

Coach Orender continues to be impressed with Christina Cabias even though she misses over 30 minutes of practice each day due to an 8th period junior English class.

“Her drive and competitiveness more than makes up for lost passing and serving practice,” coach Orender said. “She infuses excitement to practice. Coaching the girls’ team is terrific when the girls get something they haven’t been able to do before. I love it when the light goes on.”

After a 50 minute bus trip to Riverdale, the girls’ rolled to a straight-set,3-0, win over the Cowgirls (25-18, 25-17, 25-17) on Oct. 20. With hip-hop music blarring as the girls entered the gym before the JV game, both teams met at center court to dance. While the party only lasted five minutes, coach Orender was concerned at first.

“I was afraid I would have to ref’ a dance-off,” coach Orender said, “but in the spirit of volleyball, both teams joined on the same side of the court and danced together. But I must say that (sophomore) Kelly Gong really showed some fancy feet. I am thinking now that maybe we all should dance to warm up before every match.”

The JV team won their first game of the year, beating 2-0, and is coached by Tracy High.

Varisty highlights included Kassy Batesole with 13 kills on 20 sets, 4 digs; Tara Albrechtson made 20 assists, 4 aces; and Christina Cabias served 4 aces.

Determination and a stingy defense led to an inspired 3-0 win against Firebaugh on Oct. 18. Game one opened routinely as FC fell behind, 3-2, before tying the score on a side out.

But senior Tara Albrechtson did not let an early Firebaugh lead unnerve her. She huddled the girls, settled them squad down and promptly rattled off seven straight service points. The girls never looked back and won three straight games (25-9, 25-12, 25-16).

However, Albrechtson’s serve was not the only reason she inspired the team. After leading 6-3 in game one, she dove along the line to save an errant pass, landing in the stands. She also made two acrobatic digs sending the crowd into a frenzy. Albrechtson finished the match with 14 assists and 4 aces.

Senior Kassy Batesole also seemed to rise to the occasion and returned to form as she logged 7 kills on 12 attempts while junior Kelsey Marston added 4 kills.

Yet the difference in the game in game three fell to sophomore Claire Kister who called a team meeting earlier to form the “energy committee.” Kister’s vocal encouragement was infectious and FC maintained its momentum throughout the match. Kister also added 3 digs in a noteable appearance in games two and three. FC won its first three-game match since defeating Tranquillity, 3-0, on Sept. 29.

After a tie-break win in game one, and blowing out Caruthers in game two, FC again struggled to put away a team after building momentum. However, this time the Eagles regrouped and took control of game four and defeated Caruthers, 3-1, (26-24, 25-11, 19-25, 25-13) on Oct. 13.

With first place in the West Sierra League on the line, FC knocked off Liberty-Madera Rachos, 3-1, on Oct. 11. The teams battled from the first serve and neither team were able to pull away. With the game tied at 25, Aliza Ford served to win (27-25).

The Eagles carried their momentum into game two and blew out the Hawks, 25-7, and seemed to be poised to take the match early. However, FC had a slow start in game three and Liberty strung together a 9-3 lead and won game three 25-19.

“Our girls really didn’t let down in game three,” coach Orender said. “Instead Liberty played very well, got some breaks. They are a streaky squad and played at a high level. If they put their game together, they have the ability to beat us.”

Just days after a poor performance against Mendota, Kassy Batesole returned to form and dominated the net with 23 kills. Tara Albrechtson finished with 23 assists to help the Eagles wrap up the first half of the season atop the WSL. Christina Cabias added 8 aces and Melanie Nachtigall had 12 kills to pace the Eagle offense. Liberty dropped their first game and fell to 6-1.

In game four, the Eagles trailed most of the game by three or four points. Then Christina Cabias took service at 20-23 and served five straight points including two aces to win the game, 25-23.

“Christina (Cabias) is a very strong player and a motivator on this team,” Jessica Berg, ’07, said. “She obviously is an important part of the team. Her serves were strong and she gave us a lot of momentum to come back and win our games.”

Game scores were 27-25, 25-7, 19-25, 25-23.

In what first seemed to be a rout, FC rolled to a first game win over Mendota, 25-9, on Oct. 7. Coach Larry Orender began to freely substitute and change the line-up. However, the energy and team chemistry fell apart and any momentum slipped away. FC dropped the next two games, 18-25, 14-25, to an Aztec team that served and defended with passion.

A usually confident side, the Eagles had difficulty in serve receive and their passing looked like a summer pick-up game. And to make matters worse, Mendota bolted to within one point (24-14) of winning the match in game four. After a time-out and a dejected Eagle side hung their heads, it was senior Tara Albrechtson and junior Christina Cabias screaming “We are not done. We will not lose.” As it turned out, they only needed to regroup.

With starters senior Kassey Batesole on the bench, junior Jessica Berg rattled off 12 straight service points to put FC ahead 26-24 in one of the most dramatic comebacks in Eagle volleyball history.

“Christina kept our heads focused and helped convince us it wasn’t over,” Berg said. “We didn’t quit. It seemed all was lost but we came out after the break and played some passionate volleyball to end game four and took it to them in game five.”

FC returned to form in game five and defeated Mendota, 15-5, in the tie-break to take the match.

“We started each game with the same line-up but we played with no intensity,” coach Orender said. “But I thought Tara did a tremendous job getting the players to fight and not give up. In game two and three we made a lot of mistakes and it killed us. Our defense tightened up when Berg started to serve and we made smart hits to win the match.”

FC beat Mendota, 3-2, (25-9, 18-25, 14-25, 26-24, 15-5) and will take on Liberty-Madera Ranchos on Oct. 11.

FC was down 2 games to 1 before they regrouped, refocused and fought back to beat Fowler, 3-2, on Oct. 4. The teams split the first four games, each taking the ensuing game (22-25, 25-15, 17-25, 25-14). Then FC followed up a game 4 victory with a 15-11 win in the deciding game.

Kassy Batesole and Melanie Nachtigall each were credited with 12 kills while Christina Cabias and Kelsey added 8 kills and 5 blocked shots each. Tara Albrechtson served 6 aces to lead the Eagles.

Volleyball is 12-2 overall and 5-2 in the West Sierra League. They next travel to Mendota on Oct. 6.

After a three-hour trip to the central coast, the Eagles met Coast Union in Cambria in a nonconference match on Sept. 30. While the girls won the spirited first game, 25-21, they were unable to hold their momentum and lost the next three games (25-12, 14-25, 14-25). Coast pressured throughout and FC was unable to respond to the Bronco attack and looked listless at times in a 3-1 loss.

Kassy Batesole had 9 kills and Jessica Berg added 7 kills. Batesole’s total was 10 less than her season high (19) last match against Tranquillity. Tara Albrechtson served up 7 aces but the team could not sustain the intensity of previous matches and their service receive was not as sharp.


However, the girls rebounded the next day in San Luis Obispo as they beat Mission Prep, 3-1 (25-21, 25-18, 16-25, 25-18), on Oct. 1. Maybe it was the morning shopping or the worship time they had with the girls’ tennis team the morning before that helped. Maybe it was the promise of surfing in Cayucos afterward, but the girls were sharp and intense during most of the match.

Christina Cabias had 7 kills and Kelsey Martin added 6 kills as the defense stiffened and service received was back to late September form.

Volleyball next hosts Fowler on Oct. 4 and Mendota on Oct. 6. They are 10-2 overall and lead the West Sierra League with a 3-0 record.

In a match dominated by the seniors Kassy Batesole and Tara Albrechtson, the Eagles came out gunning for kills and defeated an overmatched Tiger team, 25-10, 25-7, 25-21, on Sept. 29. Coach Larry Orender said the match may not have been that close because he juggled his lineup to get a variety of players in varying game positions.

Batesole had a season-high 17 kills and Albrechtson served 8 aces and had 28 assists, also a season high.

“Batesole was unstoppable at the net and the whole team only had 2 hitting errors,” Orender said. “This also shows how accurate Albrechtson was in setting today. The whole team was solid fundamentally and our passing on service receive was excellent.”

Orender went on to say that juniors Jessica Berg and Christina Cabias led the team defensively and changed around what had been an inconsistent service return and reanchored the team defense.

“Coach ‘O’ has transformed my passing this year,” Cabias said. “Last season, as a sophomore, I was a very inconsistent passer, and because of this, I only played the front row. This year he has helped to better me as a front and back row player. Coach stresses repetition, and although it may get boring at times, we always see results.”

As the game wore on and the defense stymied Tranquility’s service, the team also seemed to have a lot more energy than the home Tigers; and the first two games blatently showed it.

“We definitely had more energy than they had,” coach Orender said. “Claire Kister (’08) kept our energy at a high level all match. She’s like a fully charged battery that doesn’t run low. It’s great to have that kind of support on the court and on the side.”

Melanie Nachtigall pounded 11 kills on 13 attempts without any errors to lead FC to a straight set win (25-11, 25-19, 25-20) over Riverdale on Sept. 27. Kassey Batesole also had 11 kills as the Eagles’ front line was relentless in its power game.

“We practiced a lot this week on spiking,” Nachtigall said. “I worked on my snap and rotating through the ball in order to get more power. I was really surprised now quickly our practice paid off in the game. I know I improved my attacks and I was surprised with the strength behind our spikes.”

Tara Albrechtson continued her dominance on the court as she assisted on 23 kills. She calls the plays and acts as the offensive general. Jessica Berg also had 6 digs to lead the Eagles as she rotated throughout the line. Berg also had 4 kills.

While the girls dominated game one, they struggled to put away the Cowgirls in games two and three. At one point, the Eagles were down, 7-2, in the second game before Nachtigall served 6 straight points.

“We are doing a great job coming out of the gate and executing well,” coach Larry Orender said. “Our challenge is to see whether we can continue that level of play throughout the match.”

FC defeated Firebaugh in straight sets, 25-6, 25-17, 25-13, on Sept. 22 as the visiting Eagles show no signs of letting up on their West Sierra League opponents. Tara Albrechtson led the way with 20 assists, 5 aces. Jessica Berg had 6 kills and Christina Cabias added 4 kills.

“Our volleyball team’s success can be attributed to our chemistry,” Cabias said. “We all get along and love the game. Tara (Albrechtson) really holds our team together; she is so positive and encouraging. It is amazing to watch and play with her.”

Coach Larry Orender mixed his lineup against Firebaugh in order to give the younger players opportunity to play. He also switched to a jump serve attack with successful results.

“I was really impressed with our young players,” Orender said. “They stepped in and we didn’t miss a beat. Claire Kister, ’08, and Kalley Batesole, ’09, played terrific defense.”

After a 9-day break since winning the Caruthers Raisin Harvest Festival Invitational, FC survived a scare in the second match to defeat Caruthers, 3-0, in their home opener on Sept. 20.

FC started strong and fast and dominated game one, 25-14, with swift, accurate setting of team leader, senior Tara Albrechtson. In game two however, the team buckled and bent under Caruther’s strong rally service game. The Eagles did not score very often when on service and struggled defensively against a determined Blue Raiders team. Yet FC did not break and won, 25-22.

FC returned to form in game three with strong service rally points and the defense rebounded to backstop a 25-19 win. Senior Kassy Batesole led the Eagles with 12 kills while junior Christina Cabias served up 4 aces and 7 kills.

After sweeping through the Championship Bracket, the girls’ volleyball team beat Kingsburg, 25-19, 25-9, in the finals of the Caruthers Raisin Harvest Invitational on Sept. 10. The All-Tournament team included seniors Tara Albrechtson, Kassy Batesole and sophomore Melanie Nachtigall.

In the Championship Bracket, FC lost their first game to Kingsburg, 12-25, but then bounded to edge Kingsburg, 25-23, then completed the comeback with a 15-8 win. FC then defeated LeGrande, 25-15, 25-24, in hotly contested matches. Finally FC beat Farmersville, 25-21, 25-14, to set up a rematch with Kingsburg.

Girls’ volleyball opened its season at the Caruthers Raisin Harvest Invitational going 2-1 in Pool B play on Sept. 7.

FC began the tournament with a close match against Fowler but dropped the opening game, 25-24, and then lost another heartbreaker in the second match, 25-23. An hour later, the girls regrouped and beat Corcoran, 25-21, 25-12. Then, without a rest, the girls defeated Washington Union, 25-13, 25-16.

There are four divisions and the top two teams from pool play advance to the finals on Sept. 10. The third and fourth place teams advance to the consolation round on Sept. 10. Caruthers will host the finals while Riverdale will host the consolation round both beginning at 9 A.M.

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