Lions show heart in comeback victory

Heenan leads charge as Vanguard has successful finish to Labor Day weekend tournament.

September 04, 2010|By Matt Szabo,

COSTA MESA — Smack in the middle of Labor Day weekend, the Vanguard University women's volleyball team was, perhaps appropriately, hard at work Saturday night.

The Lions had to battle back and show a lot of heart after dropping the first two sets to Great Falls of Montana. But that only made the final result that much more exhilarating.

Vanguard used a frantic rally to claim a 17-25, 21-25, 26-24, 25-21, 15-9 win at The Pit in its last of four matches at the Crown Plaza Labor Day Tournament. And, though it is still early in the season, Vanguard Coach Marissa Booker (formerly Cothran) loved the fight she got out of her team at the conclusion of a long two days of matches.


"I think we have a fight in us that helped us come back and win," Booker said. "I think us losing [Friday] night in five games [to Carroll College], we didn't want that feeling again. That was a big thing for us.

"I think we came out too lackadaisical [against Great Falls]. We should have come out more prepared, but like I said, there was a huge fight in us that I liked to see. Our conference is the best conference in the nation, and we need that fight to be able to be successful in our conference."

Vanguard (4-1) also swept Cal State Dominguez Hills, 25-18, 25-19, 25-18, earlier Saturday in its third tournament match.

It appeared that Great Falls (3-9) might do the same to the hosts in the nightcap. And this was a Great Falls team that had been swept in its first three matches of the tournament, all by other Golden State Athletic Conference teams (Pt. Loma, Biola and Cal Baptist).

"We knew that they lost to other GSAC teams, so they were probably out for a little bit of blood," said Vanguard junior setter Alexandra Leja, who recorded 27 assists. "They want to show that they're working hard and they have a good program, and they wanted to blow us out of the water."

The Argonauts came out ready to play. Booker's Lions clearly didn't, as she implored her team to "turn the light switch on" during a timeout in the second set. She didn't mean hit the light fixture on the ceiling, which Vanguard did at a key point down 21-19 in that set to help Great Falls close it out.

But the Lions rallied behind the play of Jamie Heenan, who like Booker is a Newport Harbor High product. The junior had three service aces in the third set. The last was the biggest, hitting the top of the net and trickling over at set point to help Vanguard stay alive.

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