By: Kyle Pineda
With their season coming to an end, the John F. Kennedy’s Lady Cougars Volleyball team was served their first loss of the season ending their undefeated season streak on their last game against Sylmar High School. The two teams have won co-league champions due to their record with only 1 loss to each other. The lady cougars have dominated game after game, accruing win after win, placing them as first seed of the Division I league up until Wednesday, October 23, where they battled for five sets losing three of them, cementing their position as one of the top five teams in the bracket for playoffs.
“I feel good going into playoffs being on the top five teams and having close matches with the other top five teams while not being at full strength,” stated head coach Donaldo Morales.
Morales discusses some of the challenges and changes they’ve had to make to be able to be where they are at as a team.
“But this year is different because we are more well rounded and the girls want to compete against higher level teams, which helped us in the summer when we went to competitive tournaments in the southern section,” Morales answered when asked what were some of those differences.
“To prepare for playoffs in division I, we have to understand what we are capable of,” explained Morales. “We can’t take any team lightly.”
With their season coming to an end and the seniors’ final games of their high school career coming up, it is inevitable that they will be making some changes in the future. The coach will have to find a way to continue what this year’s team has achieved.
“The seniors we have now all played three years in the program and have been a huge part of the team this year, especially on defense, which has been stronger this year than any other year in the past,” Morales emphasized.
Following their loss last Friday against Verdugo Hills High School in a non-league game match up on Friday, October 18th, winning only one of the four sets played, the team has seen their weaknesses and how much more they still need to work hard to get themselves in shape and ready to face the top teams in playoffs in order to acquire the championship title and trophy.
Jennifer Borodaty, varsity middle blocker, pointed out some of the weaknesses and struggles that led to the team’s lost against Verdugo. She stated how they had poor communication skills and the team wasn’t playing their best physically and mentally. “I think our weakness was that we would give up when we were playing, and we would see that we were losing.”
Their first playoff game is on Monday, October 28th, 2019, with their opponent still unknown. Playoffs are very different from regular season; other teams are more well rounded, and some have learned from their struggles, and certainly the games are more important and intense.
The team has yet to play their full potential and strength. According to the coach, they still have much work to do. “So being more vocal in the practice and having everyone 100% on drills and game play will allow them to play past their current levels.”
According to the coach, the team’s goal is staying focus and being on the same page with each other. “If the team is playing together they can do some real damage going into playoffs.”
“I think we have good chemistry and I think we get along very well.” responded Carissa Mendez, captain of the varsity team, when asked what the team’s greatest strength is. However, she also stated that the team is trying to build up their offense more to have a better, more well-rounded team.
“The practices we have now are definitely vigorous and skill based everyday, and so I think we’ll continue working on ball control; we’ll continue having drills that focus on defense and have drills to strengthen our offense,” Mendez responded.
Borodaty was questioned if the team is scared going into playoffs facing against other top teams; her response was “No, because we know that we could’ve beaten Verduugo and we just kinda gave up; and we play much better against stronger teams.”
With their one loss season record setting them up for a bigger heartbreak and disappointment if they come short of a championship, only time will tell if the hard work they’ve put in into games and practices are enough to lead them on winning a championship title.