Varsity volleyball advances to CIF quarterfinals

Varsity volleyball defeated Schurr High School 3-2 in the second round of CIF Saturday, Oct. 28 at home.

The Mustangs scored the first point of the set with a kill from outside hitter sophomore Aubrey Tanner. Making seven kills within the first nine points, the Mustangs gained an early 9-4 lead against the Spartans. The Spartans were unable to end the Mustangs’ run, leading to a timeout called by Schurr. Following a dig by defensive specialist senior Alondra Feria, Tanner attacked the ball, scoring a set point for the Mustangs. The Mustangs won the first set 25-16 after the Spartans hit the ball out of bounds.

“We were more stressed [in the first set] because we didn’t really know how this team was going to play,” outside hitter senior Amber Johnson said. “It was a completely new version of volleyball they played.”

In the second set, the Mustangs made unforced errors, allowing the Spartans to get a two-point lead. However, after scoring, the Mustangs were able to pull ahead to regain the lead 7-4 with a four-point serving run for libero freshman Angelina Rodriguez. Following an unforced offensive error, the Spartans called a timeout at 13-8. Finishing the second set, the Spartans hit the ball out, allowing the Mustangs to take the second set 25-20.

“The [second] set was exciting. We all had the highest energy,” Rodriguez said. “[To win this game], I gave it my all [and] ran down balls. I yelled [and cheered] a lot.”

Schurr scored the first few points, but Walnut responded with an ace by Tanner to gain the advantage in the third set. However, Schurr regained their 5-8 lead, resulting in a timeout from Walnut. Schurr went on a four-point run increasing their lead 13-20, but their streak came to an end after middle blocker junior Esther Li blocked an attack from Schurr. Walnut lost the third set 20-25 after failing to put the ball in play.

“The energy went down, and that’s why we fell flat,” middle blocker senior Jordyn Sanchez said. “We could have done better on moving on from our mistakes because a lot of us, even myself, got stuck on our mistakes.”

In the beginning of the fourth set, Walnut could not defend against opposing attacks. Although down the entire set, Walnut managed to close the score deficit to one point after a kill from Johnson. Schurr had another four-point run, but it ended after Johnson finished the rally with a kill. Tailing 17-21, varsity coach Angela McElroy called a timeout, but Walnut was unable to score another point. Schurr won the fourth set 25-17 with a set-winning ace.

“They’re the second seed, and we came in wanting to win, so when we won the first two sets, it was really good [and] really emotional. Then [our momentum] fell off, and we started playing their game,” Li said. “We let the first two games get in our heads, and our energy died off a little bit, but we brought it back up and played well.”

In the fifth set, Walnut scored the first point with a kill by Tanner on the outside. After an overpass from Schurr, Sanchez attacked the ball, scoring a point for Walnut 5-3. Schurr called a timeout after a block by Li at 11-7. Walnut won the final set 15-12 with a kill down line by Tanner,   earning a spot in the CIF quarterfinals.

“The game had a lot of highs and lows because we started off really strong and toward the end we gained a lot of momentum. We talked a lot, and we had a lot of energy that kept us going,” opposite hitter sophomore Sabrina Evangelista said. “My hopes for the rest of CIF is to keep playing our game and keep up our energy and momentum.

By Freda Lei, Staff writer
Photo by Tristan Gonzalez