The Moore League championship is on the line this afternoon at Lakewood in the Tim Sweeney Gymnasium as the Lancers host Long Beach Poly in a huge girls’ volleyball showdown at 4 p.m.
Poly won a five-set thriller in the teams’ first meeting so the Jackrabbits are in the driver’s seat. A win would mean Poly’s first non-shared championship since 2012. A win for Lakewood would mean the teams share the championship as they’ve done two of the last three years; it would also be the Lancers’ sixth consecutive title.
The two teams will look very different than they did the first time they met, as Poly will have UC Irvine commit Onye Ofoegbue fully integrated in the middle of the net while the Lancers will have Laura Williams at the OH2 and Zyaire Garrit on the floor.
“You don’t throw the whole first meeting out of the window, but we’ll both look a lot different,” said Lakewood coach Mike Wadley.
“Regardless of who’s hot, who’s not, who’s playing, it just doesn’t matter when Poly and Lakewood play,” said Jackrabbits coach Leland McGrath. “It’s going to be long rallies and a bunch of great defense and high emotions. We know they’re going to fight tooth and nail and we have to be prepared to do the same.”
The match is a meeting between the No. 9 team in CIF (Lakewood) and the No. 11 team (Poly).
The two teams mirror each other in terms of strengths and weaknesses. Both are led by creative and talented Polynesian senior setters, with Moni Vivao (UCSB commit) leading Lakewood and Liz Schuster (Cal State Fullerton) leading Poly. Both have stud outside hitters who’ve been four-year varsity players with Julia Crawford (Fullerton) leading the Lancers and Allanah Cutler (West Point) leading the Jackrabbits.
The rivalry has gotten more and more intertwined and good-natured over the years as mutual respect between the programs has turned into friendship. That’s perfectly represented by Crawford and Schuster both committing to Fullerton and taking their official recruiting visits there last weekend, where they both said they hit it off.
That shared bond between programs comes from occupying the same space in a prep volleyball world that is often dominated by big-money private schools and affluent public schools.
“We’re the only two blue collar public schools that can put out teams that compete with those programs year in and year out,” said McGrath.
Wadley agreed, and said that while he expects today’s competition to be as fierce as ever, it will be the last day the teams see themselves as opponents.
“We obviously want to win but outside the gym we’re always rooting for each other,” he said.
We’ll have live updates posted on the site for anyone who can’t make the match.