Xavier Johnson / The Advocate
In front of a packed crowd for Sophomore Night, the volleyball team lost its last game of the season in straight sets to Yuba College (10-11 overall and 9-5 in the Bay Valley Conference) in the Gymnasium Nov. 7.
Middle blocker Makaya Thomas, libero Delaine Baca, outside hitter Victoria Matue, right side hitter Rosa Olivar and middle blocker Marissa Kitchen were the sophomore players honored before the game.
“This is the best team we’ve had in my years of coaching,” coach Christy Tianero said. “Even though the team’s record was bad, the way they played and how hard they practiced is why I love this team.”
Baca and Matue both said the team’s chemistry was significantly improved from last season.
The Comets finished the season with a 2-19 record with the only two victories coming in conference play against winless, last place, Napa Valley College.
Contra Costa College finished seventh in the BVC.
Coming into the final game, the Comets were on a six-game losing streak and were looking to finish the season with a spirited performance. In front of a big crowd, in large part to sociology department Chairperson Vern Cromartie who gave extra credit to students attending the game, the volleyball team struggled to maintain focus in the unusually raucous environment.
Kitchen said, “It was nerve wracking because of all the people. I was hoping we’d play our best against Yuba, but the big crowd scared us a little.”
At one point, the Comets were down 12-1 giving up points off errors and low-effort play. Any efforts to rally were moot as Yuba easily took the first set, 25-14.
In a make-or-break moment after the team’s early struggles, the Comets managed to stabilize going into set two.
“We kept telling ourselves this is our last game and all these people came to watch us,” Thomas said.
Matue, in particular, stepped up her play in set two after a poor start. The sophomore defensive anchor said nerves got the best of her which contributed to her lack of energy on the court.
“I wasn’t ready to play,” Matue said. After some motivation by Tianero, Matue’s play, like the rest of the team, improved in set two.
Thomas and freshman outside hitter Maleah Maddox gave the team an offensive spark toward keeping the second set close.
Thomas finished the game with 15 kills on 44 attempts. Maddox had six kills on 14 attempts.
Despite improvement by the Comets, Yuba was able to win set two, 25-21.
Set three was similar with the Comets holding their own but ultimately losing 25-18.
Wednesday marked the end of the season but practice continues for Thomas, Matue and Baca as they are competing in the Sophomore Showcase at Solano Community College on Dec. 2.
The showcase is where the top volleyball players in the state go to play in front of college scouts in hopes of getting an offer to a four-year college.
CCC hasn’t sent players to the showcase at all during Tianero’s tenure as coach and the honor was a rarity when Tianero attended CCC in 2006.
“We didn’t know anything about the Sophomore Showcase. We haven’t sent any players, but this year all three of them are good enough to go,” Tianero said.
Baca finished the season ranked second in the BVC in total digs with 312 and second in digs per set with 4.52. Thomas’ 0.72 blocks per set ranked her third in the conference and she was ninth in kills per set.
Matue didn’t stand out in any statistical categories, but Tianero said she is one of their best players.
The sophomore struggled due to playing out of position most of the season.
Matue’s prime position is as a defensive specialist or libero, however, she was better utilized as an outside hitter for the Comets.
“Victoria is a really good defensive player. Against Solano, she held her own against the top ranked hitter in the conference,” Tianero said.
In that game Matue had 16 digs.
In preparation for the showcase, Tianero has been working with players individually on their weaknesses and adjustments for playing outside of CCC.
Tianero said Baca is working on lining up on the left side as a libero instead of her current position in the middle back.
Thomas has been working on improving her approach, which is the way a player gathers and prepares to make a play.
Matue has been focusing on making quicker decisions as a defensive specialist.