The Jackrabbits have some key returners, including setter Liz Schuster, right side Allanah Cutler (a West Point signee), and liberos Alexis Durand and Sofia Skukan. But there’s no denying that a big part of the Jackrabbits’ success this year will depend on the performance of some talented freshmen.
The Jackrabbits are starting a pair of ninth graders, and in key positions. On the outside, Adonia Faumuina has been taking a lot of swings for Poly in their early matches, and Riley McGinest is starting the middle. McGinest is the daughter of legendary Poly, USC, and Patriots linebacker Willie McGinest.
Longtime head coach Leland McGrath said that having some of his team’s top producers being freshmen hasn’t been an issue for his team’s dynamic.
“The freshman girls work hard so the older girls respect them,” he said. “They came in with a great team attitude coming from Mizuno.”
The duo have performed well already. In Faumuina’s first high school match she had 18 kills on .380 hitting against Harvard-Westlake, and was also second on the team in digs.
Cutler, Faumuina, and McGinest at the net give Poly an imposing defensive presence, and with passers like Skukan, Durand, Grace Abdoo, and Victoria Verceles, the Jackrabbits could be hard to score against.
“Our hitting is ahead of our passing right now, as our passing comes along we’ll be a lot better,” said McGrath.
The team showed flashes in the Tae Kim Molten Classic, reaching the top bracket’s semifinals after a five-set thriller over Los Al that saw Cutler with 23 kills, three aces and eight digs and Faumuina with 18 kills. Schuster had seven kills, 45 assists, and 10 digs in the win.