Warriors fall and bounce back

Everyone in the gymnasium collectively held their breath after their worst nightmare came true; the team’s star player and leader, sophomore outside hitter Nicole Echeverri, had just hit the ground hard after colliding with a player from Santa Barbara City College.

This would prove to be the biggest momentum changer of the evening, both against and in favor of the Warriors, as they would go on to lose against SBCC in five sets (17-25, 25-19, 25-27, 18-25, 9-15); but not before they bounced back with a victory over Cypress College three sets to one (25-22, 25-17, 28-30, 25-17).

“They [Warriors] didn’t quit,” coach Le Valley Pattison said. “We’re playing 6′ people out there but we just kept swinging away. They really gutted it out.”

At first it seemed as if the injury to Echeverri would derail the Warriors as they lost all momentum after being tied 24-24 in the third set against SBCC; but they refused to lose their composure even after dropping the first match of the evening.

“Our team handled it well by picking up our energy as soon as she went down,” sophomore setter SueKalena Tafao said. “Yea, we lost the game she [Echeverri] got hurt in but we came back with good energy and won.”

Echeverri collapsed with a grimace on her face after she landed awkwardly on the foot of another player from SBCC.

“I immediately knew something was wrong right away,” Echeverri said. “I heard my knee pop and felt excruciating pain.”

Despite the loss of their star player, the Warriors rallied behind their fallen leader and played in inspired match against Cypress College; with the team chanting “Nicole!” before every set.

EC was undermanned and undersized against Cypress but overcame those disadvantages with excellent ball movement, speed and defense; coupled with several errors on Cypress’ side.
“I give all our team credit,” Pattison said. “We have 5’4″, 5’5″ outside hitters that are filling in, working so hard and just trying do everything right.”

The Warriors next stop will be the San Diego Mesa Invitational, which will be both Friday and Saturday, Sept. 20-21, before opening up conference play against Long Beach City College.
There is still no set timetable for the return of Echeverri, who is waiting to see just how serious the injury to her leg really is once the swelling goes down.

Until then, the Warriors will just have to pick up the slack and continue to play great team ball.

“We’re going to have to be even more scrappy on defense,” Tafao said. “Pick everyone up and try to get a lot more touches to slow down the ball.”