Porterville stay sharp with sweep against Arvin

Caption: Porterville’s Ramona Ianneo serves the ball against Arvin. With the win over Arvin, the Panthers stayed hot and improved their record to 12-4 this season. (Kason Clark)

Porterville Panthers pounce on the Arvin Bears in three sets; win improves their record to 12-4 about a month into the season

PORTERVILLE – Through the first month of the season, the Porterville Panthers have been one of the hottest volleyball teams in Tulare County. And they showed no signs of slowing down when they defeated Arvin in three sets (25-17, 25-6, 25-17) at Bill Sharman Gymnasium on Wednesday night.

With the win, the Panthers improved to 12-4 on the season and have now won five of their last six matches. Even though they are only a month into their season, sophomore Ryleigh Schoonover believes she and the Panthers already have their team chemistry down.

“It’s just our communication on the court and off the court,” Schoonover said. “The bond that we have with the girls is just so great.”

There have been some hiccups along the road this season, such as a loss to Garces Memorial High School on the road the night before. But with their home victory over Arvin, Porterville head coach Lisa Davis believes the Panthers are back on track.

“It was nice to rebound. We didn’t play our best (against Garces Memorial) but we rebounded well today,” Davis said. “I felt like we set the tone early on and we played really well as a team.”

It was a team effort for the Panthers in their victory over the Arvin Bears. Haiden Arbelo continued her strong season with seven kills and 19 digs while Natalie Rankin contributed with six kills of her own. But Schoonover had a stellar night for the Panthers with eight kills and six aces.

“She really did a fantastic job tonight,” Davis said about Schoonover’s performance. “She’s a sophomore and you can see her grow from one match to another. And I was really proud of her serving.”

From the jump, the Panthers took it to Arvin. After jumping out to a 5-0 lead to start the first set, the Panthers held steady to build themselves a 15-12 lead. The Panthers then went on a 7-2 run to stretch the lead to 22-14. They closed it out for the 25-17 victory and a 1-0 lead on the night.

After leaping out a 9-4 lead to start the second set, the Panthers poured it on with a 12-0 run to push the lead to 21-4. Schoonover made an impact as she served for the Panthers during this entire stretch. However, she credits her teammates on the bench for keeping the run going.

“It was not so much the energy on the court, it was all the girls on the bench who helped with the energy and helped us keep going in that rally,” Schoonover said.

The Bears eventually put an end to the run, but the Panthers went on to win it, 25-6, for a 2-0 lead in the match. Looking to stay alive, the Bears took a 3-0 lead to start the third set. But the spurt from the Bears was short lived as the Panthers came back to tie it at 10-10.

The Panthers then dominated the rest of the way to win it, 25-17, to end the night. With a chance to close out the match, Schoonover believes the Panthers just executed down the stretch.

“We did a great job of putting the ball away and putting the ball in the right places,” Schoonover said.

With league play soon approaching, the Panthers will be looking to stay hot. While she is happy with the way they are playing, Davis believes there is still room for improvement as they head into the thick of their season.

“We need to improve a little bit more on the defensive side in regards to just transitioning,” Davis said. “But I feel like we’re doing all the right things that we should be doing and need to be doing at this point in the season.”

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