Resilient Bonita Prevails 3-1 Over Ayala

September 13, 2017
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Natalie Hartman is one of Coach Cuenca’s fiery leaders on and off the court.

LA VERNE, California, September 13, 2017 — Overcoming injuries to two of its key players, Katie Jensen and Niki Capizzi, the Bonita Varsity Volleyball team won its match over Ayala 3-1 on the Bearcats’ home court on Wednesday night.

The set scores were Bonita 26-24, Bonita 25-21, Ayala 25-21 and Bonita 27-25.

That two of the games required overtime showed that the match was closer than the 3-1 score.

In the first set, Bonita led most of the way until Ayala forged ahead to take a 19-18 lead. Behind some strong serves by Sara Schmitt, and a block and a kill by Niki Capizzi, Bonita rebounded and was poised for victory, taking a 24-20 lead after Joceylyn Kurnick’s beautifully placed drop shot. But Ayala gamely fought back to knot the score at 24-24 before Bonita finally claimed the last two points for the overtime win.

Sara Schmitt had an outstanding game, delivering several key shots to give Bonita the win.

In the second set, Bonita started sluggishly, but then after tying the score 4-4, bounded out to a 9-5 lead. But again, when the Bonita faithful thought the lady Bearcats were going to put away Ayala, the Bulldogs came charging back. At one point Ayala led 17-13. Then Bonita had a surge of its own to tie the set at 18-18. The teams were tied at 21 before Bonita rattled off the next four consecutive points on a kill by Capizzi, a block by Capizzi and Kurnick, and a kill by Kurnick, to take the set, 25-21.  Leila Low also had a strong serving game to lead her team.

In set three, Bonita suffered a let down or was simply over-confident that they could get the sweep and send everyone home early. Instead the Bearcats trailed most of the contest. After tying the score at 14-14, they were looking up the rest of the way and dropped the set 25-21, the last point coming on a service fault.

In the fourth set, Bonita again trailed early. After being down 13-10, Bonita scored six consecutive points to lead, 16-13. Then Ayala put a run together of its own to take a 21-20 lead. But it would be their last, because even as Ayala tied the score at 24-24 and 25-25, they could never forge ahead at the most critical moments.  It was too much Capizzi, too much Schmitt, too much Destiny Crowder and and too much Natalie Hartman and Jocelyn Kurnick with great serving from Low and Chin.

Jocelyn Kurnic, No. 39 and Captain Kaie Jensen share a high five while the going was good.


Another name that figured prominently for the Bearcats was their captain, Katie Jensen. 

“She went out early with an ankle injury,” Coach Eli Cuenca said after the match. “She’s been dealing with it, but it just twisted on her. I think someone came under her. So it took our girls a little time before they got back into rhythm again. 

One of the players who helped Bonita get back on track was Dana Burton. “She stepped up at key moments when we needed her,” he said.

Then Capizzi rolled her ankle, but after taking some time, she reentered the match to strike some big blows for Bonita and give the Bearcats a menacing threat at the net. “She powered through it,” Cuenca said.

“I think the girls showed a lot of resiliency to get the ‘W'”, Cuenca added. “It shows the character of the girls, and being a young squad, the girls learned they can get through adversity and challenge for a league title.”

The Varsity’s performance drew a variety of reactions.

It was also a good day for the junior varsity, which powered through their two sets, 25-20 and 25-11. Coach Sarah Bruchet rotated lots of players. Her cast includes Claire Sojka, No. 6; Riley Bowers, No. 9; Lexi Cepeida, No. 11; Dakota DeLoern, No. 12; Brooklyn McPherson, No. 13; Melissa Shaw, No. 15; Nika Rezvani, No. 16; Marisa Bisuano, No. 17; Makayla Iliscupidez, No. 18; Jackie Groswirt, No. 21; and Elika Rezvani, No. 30/3.

At times, the way they were dominating the action, they truly looked like a formidable varsity team. The players were out to make a statement!

In the fourth set, Bonita called a timeout to make sure everybody knew their assignments for the next critical points.


After another close play, Bonita players, from left, Melissa Joyce, Chloe Chin, Jocelyn Kurnick, Destiny Crowder and Natalie Hartman show concern, but not panic.


Again, Bonita enjoyed enthusiastic support from their impromptu chorus line.


Bonita appeared poised and ready from the start, with Melissa Joyce and Sara Schmitt leading the way.


The JVs might have been the under-card, but they put on a quite a show, sweeping their sets in fairly easy fashion.


Melissa Shaw, No. 15, glances back at a teammate.


It’s Melissa again in the thick of the action.


Marissa Bisuano and Jackie Groswirth confer after a point.


Marisa signals she’s ready to hit an ace.


Dakota DeLoern appears pensive and poised. 


Bonita’s back line proved formidable all night long.


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