Mt. San Antonio beach volleyball inches out El Camino in neck-and-neck match


Mt. San Antonio players storm the sand court after players Allison Whiteman and Bristol Christelman won the go-ahead set to win them the match 3-2. Both the No. 2 duos and No. 3 duos matches went into third sets bringing the fight for the match neck and neck. (Ethan Cohen | The Union)

Breathe. Just breathe.

Feeling the pressure engulf her, Mt. San Antonio beach volleyball player Bristol Christelman repeated the mantra to herself.

As she inhaled deeply, a sense of calm washed over her, zoning into the next play.

Beside her, partner Allison Whiteman looked on with steely determination.

With a final spike of the ball, the Mounties rushed the court in a burst of cheers and jumping players.

“We both wanted that win for our team,” Christelman said.

Mt. San Antonio No. 2 duos Allison Whiteman (left) and Bristol Christelman both dive for the ball during a match against El Camino on April 7. Whiteman and Christelman went on to win their third set against El Camino cementing their 3-2 victory. (Ethan Cohen | The Union)

Exchanging blow after blow, the Mt. San Antonio Mounties fought down to the wire with every serve, spike and block proving crucial until the final point in their 3-2 win over the El Camino College Warriors on Friday, April 7.

Both El Camino and Mt. San Antonio swept Cerritos College 5-0.

Relieved the game swung in her favor, Christelman pushed through with the support of the Mounties team cheering from the sidelines.

“I took a step back and everybody came in like slow motion,” Christelman said. “I was able to take a deep breath and enjoy the win with my partner and team.”

Dazed and defeated, Warriors duo Emily Uhrinak and Francheska Aguilar summed up the match as a series of errors that were in their control.

Mt. San Antonio player Allison Whiteman jumps to block a hit from El Camino player Emily Uhrinak. Whiteman and partner Bristol Christelman went on to win the third set 15-12 solidifying their victory. (Ethan Cohen | The Union).

“I’m not heartbroken over this game,” Uhrinak said. “I know we can do better.”

The Warriors blew by the Cerritos College Falcons in the first match of the day, only facing a closely contested matchup on court four.

In their first match as partners, Warriors duo Athina Sarreas and Bianca Antienza-Perez inched out the final win against the Falcons 24-22 and 21-15.

Used to playing on the right side, Atienza-Perez had a hard time adjusting with Sarreas, but by the second set, they were “locked in.”

“I like her as a partner,” Atizena-Perez said. “She talks a lot, which is good and she gives good visuals on what the [defense is doing].”

Biana Atienza-Perez (left) hugs Athina Sarreas after winning their match against Cerritos College. Atienza-Perez said this was her first match playing with Sarreas. (Ethan Cohen | The Union)

Atienza-Perez added that Sarreas aids her in visualizing the defenders by pointing to her stomach before serving, allowing them to strategize and launch a precise attack for the next play.

Falcons coach Kari Hemmerling told The Union after the match the beach volleyball program at Cerritos is in its first year and all of her players came from indoor volleyball backgrounds.

“They are all very new to this sport,” Hemmerling said. “I told them they’re gonna learn really quick how different beach and indoor [volleyball] is.”

Hemmerling’s main focus for the Falcons team is to get them the experience they need to compete at a higher level.

“I’m bummed we lost, but happy we get to compete all spring against some of the best teams in the state,” Hemmerling said.

Warriors No. 3 duo Sophia Ortiz dives for the ball against a Mt. San Anotnio spike. Ortiz and partner Ginia Goods took Mt. San Antonio to three sets but were short of victory losing 17-15. (Ethan Cohen | The Union)

Feeling a “gamut of emotions,” coach Liz Hazell, who has been with the Warriors for seven seasons, was bummed at the overall loss against Mt. San Antonio.

“As a coach, you can tell them everything you want, but you can’t go out there and play for them,” Hazell said.

The feelings of breaking through with a comeback win and dropping the match with a loss were in constant motion for Hazell.

“That was a good match,” Hazell said. “They didn’t end up pulling it out [but] hopefully they learn from that and take it into our next matches.”

Warriors coach Liz Hazell talks to Diana Enriquez (left) and Leafa Juarez after a mid set switch. Hazell said that she went through a “gamut of emotions” watching the teams play. (Ethan Cohen | The Union)

The Warriors return to the El Camino College Sand Courts on April 14 against College of the Desert at 10 a.m. and Cerritos College at noon.