"This team is finally maturing. It's getting toward the end of the season and everything is starting to come together. Now they're starting to capitalize on the other team's mistakes," said Ponchione. "The younger players are now starting to play like they have a full year under their belts. For them to come in and beat Calexico really says a lot."
Leading Imperial were Jenny Bowlan with nine blocks and seven kills, Lindsay Lugo with 12 assists and eight points, Melanie Medina with 15 points and Melissa Keaton with 10 digs.
Ponchione said the most telling sign of his team's resolve came in the fourth game.
After getting worked 15-5 in game three, the Tigers did not let the loss get to them. Four times in the fourth game Imperial was behind, but each time it found a way to get back into the game. Down 8-6, Medina took the service and accounted for the Tigers' next seven points, giving Imperial a 13-8 lead. Keaton closed the game and match with the final two service points.
"It was very frustrating to sit on the bench and see this team self-destruct," said Calexico coach Cami Mohamed. "It was as if we started the games down 10-0 because we were making so many errors."
The Bulldogs finished with 26 hitting errors and missed 10 serves, five in the final game.
Mohamed commended the play of sophomore Mayra Gonzalez, who finished with 23 assists.
"She did a great job out there trying to set terrible passes. As a sophomore, she really stepped it up," said Mohamed.
Also contributing for Calexico were Lynda Mendoza with 19 digs and Monica Garcia with 12 kills.
In the first game the lead changed six times. Calexico had an opportunity to close the game as Mendoza scored three straight points to give the Bulldogs a 14-13 advantage, but the team failed to capitalize.
Victoria Mazon then scored three consecutive service points to give the Tigers the game.
Things were nowhere near as close in the second game as Imperial shredded the Bulldogs 15-2.
Said Lugo: "We started strong and just stuck it out and played really well together as a team. After we lost the third, we just knew what we had to do to win it."
Calexico (6-5 overall, 5-4 IVL) will play in the Point Loma tournament in San Diego starting at 3 today. Imperial (17-5 overall, 6-3 IVL) will play at Central Union High in El Centro at 6 p.m. Tuesday.
Holtville 3, Southwest 1
The Holtville High volleyball team improved to 6-3 in the IVL with a 10-15, 15-1, 15-11, 15-0 win over Southwest High in El Centro on Thursday.
Leading Holtville were Claudia Lopez with 11 points, two aces, three kills and two assists, Jezelle Avila with 15 points and four aces and Michelle Strahm with 20 assists and four saves. Carley Johnson added 10 kills and Regan Rothfleisch had four kills.
Leading Southwest were Melissa Lerno with 15 assists, Jessica Conway with 14 kills and seven blocks and Christina Estrada with 19 digs.
Holtville will compete in the Mira Mesa tournament in San Diego starting today. Southwest (2-7 IVL) will play Palo Verde in Blythe at 6 p.m. Tuesday.
Brawley 3, Palm Desert 1
PALM DESERT — The Brawley Union High volleyball team downed Palm Desert 15-4, 10-15, 15-8, 15-4 here Thursday.
Leading Brawley were Leighan Sudduth with 35 assists, 20 points, three aces and 16 kills and Kristen Colace with 19 points. Kaylin Rubin, Trisha Fleming and Morgan Smith all had seven kills.
The Wildcats (19-5, 9-0) will play at Palo Verde in Blythe at 6 p.m. Tuesday.
Central 3, Palo Verde 1
The Central Union High volleyball team downed Palo Verde 3-1 in Imperial Valley League action in El Centro on Thursday.
Leading Central (3-9, 3-5) were Janice Manuel with six aces and Emily Patinio with eight points.