The Firebird Classic high school girls volleyball tournament took place Sept. 15-16, and the Fallbrook High School team posted a 4-1 record.
The Warriors won all three of their pool play matches as well as the reseeding match before losing to Pacific Ridge in the semifinal.
“The other games we were kind of all over them,” Fallbrook coach Chip Patterson said. “We sat back and let the game come to us.”
The tournament did not have a third-place match, but there was an all-tournament team and the selections included Fallbrook senior Emma Christopherson.
Fallbrook’s Sept. 15 pool play matches were contested at the SoCal Volleyball Club facilities in San Marcos. The Warriors began play with a match against St. Joseph High School, which is in Lakewood. The Jesters took a 7-0 record into their match with Fallbrook, but the Warriors prevailed by 25-11 and 25-17 margins.
“They set the tempo,” Patterson said of his team.
St. Joseph matched Fallbrook in the first game which at one time had an 8-8 score.
“They did well for the first eight points,” Patterson said. “Once we started setting the middles we kind of dominated. They couldn’t keep up with the middle.”
Sonsi Jarvis and Skyler Traut are Fallbrook’s starting middle blockers. The Warriors’ attack also involved starting outside hitters Christopherson and Maddie Nachsteim and opposite hitter Natalie Weber.
“It was pretty much even. They were spread out,” Patterson said of the offensive swings.
Vanessa Dalton is Fallbrook’s starting setter who distributes the ball to the players in the front row. Patterson used Fallbrook’s substitutes in the second game against St. Joseph.
The Warriors continued pool play with a 25-12, 25-18 triumph over Guajome Park.
“It was a good dueling battle,” Patterson said. “The hitters dominated and we blocked extremely well in that match. The intensity level increased from when they played St. Joseph.”
Fallbrook concluded pool play with a 25-10, 25-18 victory against El Capitan.
“The serving was the key element in that match,” Patterson said. “That was a big thing in both the sets we played against El Capitan.”
Madison McCarty, who is Fallbrook’s starting libero, had nine aces against the Vaqueros in the first game and seven aces in the second set.
“She was on fire with her serves,” Patterson said.
Dalton complemented the Warriors’ serving prowess.
“Her set selection was outstanding,” Patterson said.
Fallbrook’s two Sept. 16 matches were at Pacific Ridge School in Carlsbad. A reseeding match against San Pasqual ended as a 25-14, 25-18 Fallbrook victory.
“Skyler Traut and Emma Christopherson, they couldn’t be stopped in that match,” Patterson said. “Our back row defense was almost flawless. We did not let the ball hit the floor.”
San Pasqual and Fallbrook are both in the Valley League, although the Firebird Classic match does not count in the league standings.
“We have two more times to play them, so it was good to set the precedent,” Patterson said.
Pacific Ridge scored the first eight points of the semifinal match, although Fallbrook narrowed the gap to 8-7. The Warriors eventually tied the score at 12-12 and had a 17-15 lead in the first game before the Firebirds recovered for a 25-18 victory in that set.
“It went downhill. They were blocking us, and we weren’t covering well,” Patterson said.
The Warriors also had five serving errors in the first game.
Pacific Ridge won the second game by a 25-20 score.
“We were up on them the whole time,” Patterson said.
Fallbrook had an 18-13 lead, before two consecutive referee calls about whether the ball was in bounds or out of bounds were in the Firebirds’ favor.
“It just seemed like they gained momentum from there,” Patterson said.
Christopherson, who plays middle blocker as well as outside hitter, was chosen for the all-tournament team.
“She’s a phenomenal player,” Patterson said. “I think she’s just going to do great things as the season goes on.”
The Warriors have two additional tournaments this season, the Scripps Ranch Tournament on Sept. 29-30 and the SoCal Nfinity Invite on Oct. 13-14, as well as eight Valley League matches and whatever postseason play the Warriors’ performance warrants.
“We’re going to make the best of those games,” Patterson said.