With what it had to deal with throughout the season, some might say it was an accomplishment that the Bellarmine-Jefferson High girls' volleyball team was able to advance to the CIF Southern Section Division IV-A quarterfinals this season.
However, the Guards were hoping to go a little farther.
Unfortunately for Bell-Jeff, its season ended Saturday in a quarterfinal matchup on the road. The Guards were never in the contest against Laguna Blanca, as they fell, 25-15, 25-18, 25-12.
This season, No. 3-seeded Bell-Jeff (17-10-1) battled adversity throughout the year. From one of its setters not being able to compete in Tuesday league games because of softball commitments, to losing starting outside hitter Mariah Bankhead to an injury to seeing starting middle Briana Hilo sidelined with an injury, the Guards had to battle through their share of problems.
However, through it all, Bell-Jeff was able to advance to the quarterfinals for the fifth straight season and won its seventh consecutive Santa Cruz League championship.
"I told the girls that with all that we've been through this year, there's no reason they should hang their heads after this loss," Bell-Jeff Coach Miguel Segura said. "They've had to deal with a lot and they continued to work hard and they never gave up. I'm very proud of what this team did this season."
Bankhead, who suffered from an injured ankle, was sidelined in September. She just returned Tuesday for the Guards' playoff opener. Bankhead paced Bell-Jeff with nine kills. Teammate Teryn Nelson added six kills and Amanda Maalouf had 14 assists.
Laguna Blanca (14-3), which won a Condor League championship, dominated the match from the outset, not letting Bell-Jeff get any substantial runs in any of the three games.
"They didn't have any big hitters, but they hustled and they got to almost every ball," Segura said of the Owls. "They were just a good all-around team and they played hard.
"But we just didn't come to play. We were never able to wake up, and you just can't do that against a team like that. It definitely wasn't one of our better efforts."