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VOLLEYBALL : Bell Gardens Makes San Gabriel Sweat Out a Victory


The San Gabriel High volleyball team defeated Bell Gardens to move a step closer to its fourth consecutive league title, but it didn't come without a fight.

It took more than two hours for San Gabriel to put away the Lancers on Tuesday, 15-10, 11-15, 15-12, 15-7, in the battle for the Almont League lead.

"I'm very disappointed but I'm glad we gave them all we had," said freshman outside hitter Kristi Reyes of Bell Gardens. "They didn't have an easy time."

San Gabriel, winner of 13 league titles in the last 15 years, improved to 13-3 and 7-0 in league with three matches remaining. The Matadors have won every Almont League volleyball title since the league was formed in 1992.

Bell Gardens, which finished second to San Gabriel last year, is 10-3 and 5-2. The Lancers also lost in four games to the Matadors in the teams' first meeting Oct. 6 for their only other league loss.

Lisa Valenzuela had 17 kills and five aces for Bell Gardens. Diane Cardoso and Reyes added nine and eight kills, respectively, and Georgina Juarez had six aces for the Lancers.

"There was some amount of fear the first time we played San Gabriel because they have won league so many times," said Valenzuela, a junior middle blocker.

"We knew what to expect and weren't in awe this time, but what killed us was team unity. On a couple of points, we just didn't seem to want it as much as them."

San Gabriel, boosted by Allison Carey who led the Matadors with 17 kills, scored six consecutive points to overcome a 6-4 deficit and take a 10-6 lead in the first game. The Lancers rebounded to win the second game after breaking a 9-9 tie.

Bell Gardens, playing at home, rallied from an 8-3 deficit to close to 13-12 in the third game, but was unable to tie the score on three consecutive sideouts. The Matadors dominated the fourth game to secure the victory, jumping to a 7-1 lead.

"I think both teams are relatively equal, but San Gabriel had a lot more consistency," Bell Gardens Coach Jesse Rodriguez said. "We had too many mental mistakes, especially in Game No. 3."

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