Olivia Mediano and Meagan Anderson remembered last year’s Desert Valley League season-opener against Xavier Prep all too well. The Palm Springs High School seniors vowed that this year it would be different.
After Xavier rolled to an unbeaten season last year in league play, knocking the Indians from their four consecutive seasons as DVL champs, it was Palm Springs that captured the first game this year against the defending champs.
On Thursday night the Indians won handily, 25-16, 25-16, 25-15.
Palm Springs vs Xavier Prep volleyball)
“Because we had our first game of the (DVL) season last year against them and lost, this year we wanted to be sure we were ready,” said Mediano, who finished with a team-high eight kills to go with two aces and two blocks. “We had a few nerves at the beginning, but we know we have some great talent on this team.”
Palm Springs succeeded with a balanced attack in which coach Gary Wilhoite utilized every player on the roster. The Indians defense was strong and steady.
“We are more defensive-minded,” said Anderson, who rolled up six kills and seven digs. “We’re moving quick and if we do we can see better with the block and the pass. We focus on defense in practice. We’re good defensive players.”
While both teams stayed tight through the first 10 points of all three games, it was the overall speed and balanced bench that gave the Indians the surge in the end.
Palm Springs led 9-8 in Game 1, then got four points on Anderson’s serve, strong play in the middle from freshman Hannah Wright (five kills, three blocks) and rode the defense of the sophomore tandem of Mary Lake (three aces, 17 assists) and Ashtyn Lyneis (four kills, seven assists) to push ahead easily.
Mediano got it started in Game 2 serving at 10-0, then Michaela Hissam put it out of reach with seven points on serve combined with a couple of quick tips for points from Mediano.
“They really wanted to come out hard,” said Wilhoite, whose team snapped a two-game losing streak to move to 3-2 overall, 1-0 DVL. “I think Xavier was a bit overwhelmed by the speed.”
Claire Killefer and Asia O’Neil chipped in with key points as Palm Springs pulled away at 10-0 in Game 3 and never looked back.
Xavier which fell to 0-2 in the DVL, 5-4 overall, earned a solid effort from Alix Dreier and Michelle Cullen who combined for 12 kills, while Amanda Bolanos recorded 17 assists.
“We know it’s wide open and Xavier has some good parts,” said Wilhoite. “But everybody on my team has got to understand that it’s gonna be one game at a time all the way because it’s gonna be tough. We know that if we keep the ball alive, keep the rallies alive with our defense, we’re gonna be in it.”