After Bonita won Game 1, 25-7, some home-crowd Bonita fans might have wondered why the Palm Desert Aztecs even bothered to get off the bus. After leading 11-7, the lady Bearcats went on a 14-0 tear to close out the game. Melissa Katherman was delivering aces, Bonita’s frontline of Victoria Dennis, Briana Kennedy and Kaitlyn White was taking care of business, slamming home court winners.
For the next three games, however, it was a dogfight. Bonita prevailed but Palm Desert contested every game before dropping the match 3-1.
In game 2, the Aztecs led much of the way before Bonita knotted the score at 19-19. Down the stretch, Bonita again had too much firepower, featuring two kills by Olivia Rioseco and back-to-back kills by Kennedy and Dennis to close out the contest 25-22.
The way game 3 started, it appeared Bonita would close out the match 3-0. Dennis was hot early, leading the Bearcats to a comfortable 6-3 lead. After Kennedy and Dennis kills and a pair of service aces by Riley Inman, Bonita pushed the margin to 13-7. Then the Aztecs slowly started inching their way back, catching Bonita at 18. After ties at 20 and 21, Palm Desert nudged ahead and closed out the game 25-22.
If anybody in the Bonita crowd had planned to catch the final quarter of the Thursday night NFL football between the Oakland Raiders and San Diego Chargers, they had to change their plans. The suddenly upset-minded Aztecs told their bus driver to check out local hotel reservations because they planned on hanging around for a while.
In the fourth game, Palm Desert jumped out to a 2-0. Finally a block by Rioseco and kills by Kennedy and Dennis restored order, and Bonita led 3-2. After a service ace by Riley gave Bonita a 4-3 lead, the Bearcats would never trail again. But the Aztecs made it stunningly close, trailing 15-14 and 18-17 before Bonita slowly pulled away to win 25-19 on an explosive Dennis kill shot.
On the night, Dennis registered 16 kills, Kennedy added 10 kills and White rose up for 10 blocks. Inman had four service aces.
After the match, Bonita coach complimented the Aztecs grit and determination. “Palm Desert came out to compete,” she said. “What kind of playoffs would it be if it was an easy match? Every time our offense went up, we got too comfortable and we thought the ball was going straight down and it didn’t, it came back up.
“They gave us a run for our money.”
With the victory, Bonita didn’t win any money, but they did earn a chance to compete again this Saturday while showing they know how to outlast a scrappy opponent.
“I was definitely pleased by the way the girls handled the pressure,” Contreras said.