By Katelyn Merrell
Tuesday night, the D4 Tustin Tillers took on the D2 El Modena Vanguards in a preseason battle for the books. The game went into five extremely close matches. However, El Modena came through with the win in the 5th game, despite the Tillers putting up an incredible fight.
In the first game, the Tillers took an early lead separating themselves from El Modena by ten points, however, El Modena gained momentum and came back to tie up the game 24-24, where they continued on to win the game 26-24.
The second game began with El Modena still holding the momentum, but despite the disappointing first game loss, the Tillers did not give up. It was another close game, but the Tillers came out on top 25-22, tying up the matches 1-1.
The suspense continued to build as the teams ventured into their third match. Tustin’s Carlos Perez (#11) continued to lead the way for the Tillers with four kills. However, Tustin’s attempts at the net were not enough to stop the Vanguards. El Modena won the third game 25-20, putting the pressure on Tustin to win the next game to force a fifth.
With the pressure on Tustin, the boys’ knew this was their last shot. Luckily, they not only rose to the challenge, but succeeded. Tustin came out extremely strong, pumped up, and energized. Preston “The Tustin Skyline” McInnes (#13) had three kills, along with Alan Ramirez (#12) who also had three, Drew Donahoo (#9) and Carlos Perez (#11) with one apiece, and Alema Pilimai (#6) with two. The boys not only scored some major points on the offense, but also had seven blocks aiding the defense. Tustin came out on top 25-20 in the fourth game, forcing a fifth.
The fifth game began with Tustin riding their momentum from the fourth game into the final match. However, a controversial call by the referees shifted the momentum dramatically in favor of El Modena. Unfortunately for the Tillers, they were unable to regain their steam and lost the final game 9-15. El Modena’s power hitter Andrew Reyna had 26 kills for the Vanguards that night. Reyna continually caused problems for the Tillers and unfortunately they couldn’t shut him down in the final game.
Despite a close loss, the Tillers held their own against a talented division 2 team. The Tillers will compete at home against Katella today at 4:30 in their 4th preseason game.