Spirits rise, win second match in a row

LANCASTER – It might only be the preseason for Paraclete High School, but sophomore outside hitter Raqquel Cordova is already in midseason form.

Cordova led the Spirits (2-0) with 16 kills and 10 digs in their 3-0 (25-19, 25-12, 25-18) home win over the Knight Hawks (0-2) on Tuesday. It was Paraclete’s second win in a row in the preseason.

“Right now we’re moving in the right direction,” Paraclete co-head coach Mike Kelley said. “We are happy with the little improvements that we make at each practice and we see them implemented in the games.”

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Highland falls short

PALMDALE – Despite a raucous home crowd, the Highland High School girls volleyball team lost its home opener 3-0 (25-14, 25-23, 25-19) to West Ranch High School on Monday.

Highland played an athletic, fast, hard-hitting Wildcats team that was playing its first game of the season. In the first set, West Ranch overwhelmed the Bulldogs with kill after kill, at one point going on a run of 11 straight points for a 20-7 lead over Highland.

The cheering sections for both the Bulldogs and the Wildcats competed in dueling cheers while their respective varsity teams dueled on the court. Highland didn’t have much to cheer about, but that quickly changed after the first game.

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Pierce shuts out AVC in opener

LANCASTER – The Antelope Valley College girls soccer team was shut out 5-0 by Pierce College in its first game of the season Saturday.

Despite the loss, new Marauders head coach Charles Gordon said the team played well, especially in the first 40 minutes of the game, where AVC played Pierce even.

“I was happy with the girls,” Gordon said. “They never gave up. They gave it a solid effort.”

The Raiders attacked the Antelope Valley defense from the start. In the third minute, Pierce had an open opportunity in the box, but freshman forward Cindy Martin kicked it away.

With 19:45 left to play in the first half, Pierce freshman Tylee Low had a breakaway chance, but her shot on goal was saved by AVC freshman goalkeeper Gabriela Espinoza, who recorded five saves.

The Raiders managed to break the scoreless tie with 7:30 in the first half. On a Raiders free kick to the box, sophomore Delaney McNulty jumped up and headed in Pierce’s first goal of the game.

Pierce’s second goal came two minutes later when freshman Adriana Sosa touched to freshman Ashley Oviedo, who then passed to freshman Alexis Lopez. Catching Antelope Valley in a vulnerable position, Lopez shot and scored, giving the Raiders a 2-0 lead over the Marauders.

The Marauders kept the Raiders at bay for much of the first half, with Espinoza recording three of her five saves in the first 45 minutes. Sophomore forward Mackinzie Broderick praised her teammate’s effort protecting the net.

“Honestly, she’s a great keeper,” Broderick said of Espinoza. “She comes up with the saves that most of us wouldn’t even imagine her to get. That’s hard work on her. She gets to them.”

Gordon said Espinoza will be “absolutely vital” to the Marauders this season, adding that Saturday marked the first time he’s seen the freshman keeper in a game situation.

“She does a wonderful job for us,” Gordon said. “She came up big on some plays that she wasn’t expected to get to the ball, and we’re extremely optimistic moving forward.”

Antelope Valley’s only quality scoring opportunity came right at the start of the second half when freshman forward Mackayla Attwood attempted her first shot on goal. Raiders freshman keeper Brianna Jacobo, however, made the save.

Gordon praised Pierce’s soccer program after the game and said it was the type of team that could help his Marauders improve in the long run.

“We knew what we were getting into in this game,” Gordon said, “and this is the type of game that’s going to help us improve and become a better program.”

Antelope Valley’s next game is on Aug. 30 at home against Grossmont.

Palmdale comes close

PALMDALE – The Palmdale High School Football team was right there.

On three separate drives in Friday night’s home opener against the Burroughs Burros, the Falcons were within a few yards – sometimes inches – of scoring a touchdown to give them some separation over their opponent.

But on each of those drives, they came up short. The result was a 29-22 loss to Burroughs High School (1-.0).

“I think Burroughs was more physical than us,” Palmdale head coach Jeff Williams said after the game. “They kicked our butt up front. They kicked our lineman on both sides of the ball. They just took us out of our game.”

In the third quarter with the Falcons down 21-14, they were in the middle of a nine-play drive, twice coming within only 10 yards of a touchdown to potentially tie the game. But a couple of pentalites pushed them back, especially a delay of game on fourth-and-nine.

After that, junior quarterback Aaron Bowie threw an interception, ending the possibility of a tie game.

On its very next drive with 7:13 to go in the third, the Falcons worked their way to the 1-yard line on third down and 22 with a 21-yard pass from Bowie to sophomore wide receiver Dillon Dobbins. That put Palmdale within 1 yard of a first down, which they completed.

Then at first-and-goal, the Falcons had yet another opportunity to tie the game, but couldn’t capitalize over the next three plays and turned the ball over.

The Falcons, however, did manage to take a 22-21 lead over the Burros fourth quarter with 7:45 to play in the game. Dobbins caught a 75-yard pass junior quarterback Marcel Miller, who replaced Bowie late in the game.

Dobbins received for 227 yards Friday, and was a catalyst for the Falcons offense the entire second half. But Williams said although Dobbins played well, the rest of the team also needs to produce offensively.

“I think he stepped up when we had to have a spark,” Williams said of Dobbins. “But we have to have the rest of the offense be able to execute. We can’t just depend on a go-deep guy every time we need something. We have to have our offense execute.”

Things looked good for Palmdale at that point. But the Burros had one more drive in them. With just 1:31 left in the game, senior quarterback Austin McCullough started throwing for some serious yardage. In only four plays, he threw for 50 yards that culminated in a touchdown by junior wide receiver Riyad Khalifeh.

Burroughs started the game by wining possession after Palmdale turned the ball over in its initial kickoff. What resulted was a six-play drive in which Burros sophomore running back Evan Hernandez rushed for a 32-yard touchdown, giving the Burros an early 6-0 lead.

Burroughs then completed the two-point conversation, increasing its lead to 8-0.

In the Burros’ second drive of the game, McCollough and Hernandez went back to work. McCollough threw for 21 yards in the drive, and Hernandez rushed for 20 yards.

Hernandez scored his second TD of the game after a 13-yard rush into the end zone.

But Palmdale, not to be deterred, used strong play from Bowie and Dobbins to come back in late in the second quarter. With 2:36 left in the half, Bowie launched a long pass to Dobbins, gaining 55 yards. A penalty by Burroughs put the Falcons only 4 yards from the goal line.

Two plays later, Bowie finished the drive with a 1-yard rush for Palmdale’s first touchdown.

Bowie wasn’t done yet. He intercepted a pass that clipped the hands of a Burroughs player, giving the Falcons possession with 1:07 left in the half.

Bowie then threw a 20-yard pass to Dobbins on the first play of the drive, but was then sacked for a loss of 7 yards the very next play.

On fourth-and-seven, Bowie threw another 20-yard pass to Dobbins, who scored. Palmdale completed its second two-point conversion of the night, bringing the score to 21-14 in Burroughs’ favor.

Williams said Palmdale was simply not ready to play Friday night against the Burros.

“I think we lacked execution on both sides of the ball,” Williams said. “We were not prepared totally for that team and what they did for us. We made mistakes that we never make, and that’s due to a lack of preparation.”

Palmdale’s next game is at Valencia High School on Sept. 2.

New Palmdale players have same old goals

Over the past four seasons, the Palmdale High School football team has made headlines dominating the Golden League, winning four championships in a row and putting together a 28 straight league games. A big part of the Falcons’ success has come from the collective experience of its players.

But with over 30 players from last year’s roster gone due to graduation, Palmdale will have to lean on a slew of young players if it wants to continue the success its enjoyed in recent years.

“We are going to be very young,” Falcons head coach Jeff Williams said during practice on Wednesday, Aug. 17. “Most of our kids, they don’t have varsity game experience.”

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