Seniors lead Cardinals into postseason action

By Andrea Camarena

Cardinal volleyball has seen its struggles this year churning out only three victories and struggling in a league with volleyball powerhouses Immanuel and Exeter.

But the team is no where near a lost cause in the eyes of team leaders Amanda Serda and Yesenia De La Cruz.

Second year varsity player Serda, nominated this year's team captain, closed out her league play serving at 81 percent with 29 aces for the season.

Against Dinuba last week, Serda managed serving 15 for 18 with four aces in four games. Her top game helped gain a Cardinal win in the first game of the night, 25-19. But the Emporers came back full force to sweep the next three games 13-25, 10-25 and 12-25 leaving the Cardinals with another loss.

Serda's serving has been crucial for the Cardinals this season and it seems she may just now be getting the hang of it.Earlier in the season, Serda's power behind her hits was over the top but now the team has found control.

"Amanda, she's got speed. She's real quick," said head coach Brandi Tienken. "She's gotten to where she puts a whole lot of power behind the ball so now she's a lot better. She can serve on the court wherever I ask her to."

Tienken also praises De La Cruz' improvement from last year.

"Ysenia's strength is her blocking and hitting abilites," said Tienken. "Last year, she never go to play the back row or serve because she wasn't strong enough. This year, I can play her all around. She's improved a lot."

De La Cruz, also a senior, is leading the team's offense in her final Cardinal season. For the season, she's served at 80 percent and tallied 110 kills and 95 blocks.

"When I get on the court, it's game time. I'm totally focused on what I'm doing," said De La Cruz. "When I mess up I get mad but I try to come back as best I can."

De La Cruz is hoping that this week's playoff game won't be her last. As a senior, she's looking at Citrus Community College in Azuza as a way to continue playing volleyball beyond high school. She's currently contacting the head volleyball coach at CCC in hopes of an invitation to tryout.

Serda, De La Cruz are among five seniors playing in their final volleyball games this week. Erica Gonzalez, Nickie Salinas and Vanessa Alvarado will also graduate this spring. The girls put out their best perfomance of the season in their early game against Strathmore. Serda and De La Cruz both attribute this to knowing many of the players from past volleyball experiences.

The bigggest struggle for the team this year though has been facing programs from Exeter and Immanuel who tied for first place in ESL.

"It's kind of intimidating," said Serda. "For the past four years, I've known that those are the good girls. I get nervous but if I can stay sane, I can keep everyone else on the team that way."

"I want to feel like the biggest one out there," said De La Cruz. "I tell myself I'm the tallest and I can block and I can hit better than anyone out there."

With this season almost behind them, Tienken can begin preparing for next season.

"We're having a little better season this year," said Tienken. "Right now, I'm looking forward to the girls who will be coming up. We will have a younger team next year."

But Tienken is hopeful that the small program will continue to improve. The Cardinals returned to the court in an away match in the first round of playoffs Tuesday.

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