Rio Showcases Talent at Women’s Volleyball Tournament at El Camino

Beach Volleyball player Tanya Metchkoff serves the ball to her Pierce College opponent on April 27 at El Camino College.

Nicolas Trujillo/El Paisano

Beach Volleyball player Tanya Metchkoff serves the ball to her Pierce College opponent on April 27 at El Camino College.

Nicolas Trujillo, Staff writer

Rio Hondo’s Beach volleyball team journeyed to El Camino College as their post-season continued with matches against Pierce College on April 27.

Music played as the sun beamed down on a windy afternoon to add to the challenge of serving to many opponents who on average stood much taller than the Rio Hondo team.

When asked how the height differential would affect the girls, the coaching staff advised, “Watch number 12, Tanya Metchkoff. She gets low and she is fast enough to get to the ball.”

It didn’t take long for Metchkoff’s speed to give the opposing team troubles. Equally notable was the strength of Metchkoff who punched at the ball with a menacing right hook that one might expect to see in a prestigious boxing gym.

The benefit of getting low did, however, have its drawbacks. Metchkoff frantically dove, sending the ball to only slightly skim over the net. The opposing Pierce College player fiercely spiked and returned the ball behind Metchkoff, who could only watch with displeasure as she scrambled to her feet and the end of her season as she was unfortunately eliminated from the tournament.

Working as a pair, Stephanie Rios and Erika Mendoza had similar problems. With an intense game face, Rios sprung up from a low defensive position, quickly kicking sand in every direction to effectively return volleys.

Yet, the problem was not the returns, and soon breakdowns in communications led to a collision between Mendoza and Rios which had the duo covered in sand and disappointment as their season ended.

The communication was clearest between Haley Brownwood and Gabrielle Cruz. Shouts of, “Get ‘em Haley,” “Good job, Haley,” “Yeah, Haley,” and the general but passionate, “Yeah, yeah!” were constant celebrations that Cruz would shout at the top of her lungs as she forcefully shook her fist after every successful point.

Cruz’s enthusiasm transferred nicely to her play. As Cruz waited for her teammate’s serve, she would pace in place, anticipating the opportunities to put pressure on the other team by playing close to the net to block, or diving to set up her teammate.

Unfortunately, their match ended closely, with Pierce College getting the win. Nonetheless, both teams did all they could to keep the rallies and their season alive as long as they could.

Rio Hondo’s first and only win of the day came from Paula Alferez and Carleigh Cruz. Both played beautifully in sync with each other, as they would prime one another for a shot that came crashing to the opposing team’s side of the sand.

The match play was best described as intelligent, yet fearless, since both players dove to get to the ball, on multiple occasions. They both knew it was not enough to get the ball across and that each would need her teammate to plot the time, place and method to do it.

With support coming from their sidelined teammates, the atmosphere rang with excitement. Alferez went from firmly digging her feet in the sand to exploding with a jumping serve that made her opponent cautious and her teammate confident.

Hard hitting serves were a common theme for the Rio Hondo team especially for the team of Romy Ramos  and Jacqueline Chaidez whose match was ended as closely as it possibly could have with a score of 16-14. With momentum swaying back and forth it was not for a lack of effort that they lost, nor was skill set the problem; in the end it was simply a bad bounce.