St. Anthony girls’ volleyball is two years removed from their first CIF championship since 1988 when they took the Division 7 crown, but the Saints still have some players on this team that helped St. Anthony secure the eighth CIF plaque in school history.
Junior captain Isabella Bareford has been the key to St. Anthony success for the last three seasons. The setter had 48 assists, 12 digs, three kills, two blocks and an ace in the championship win. She will have good offensive weapons to feed like returning sophomore opposite hitter Jaena Bell.
Senior Nofo Selu, who also was on the varsity squad two years ago, is the only libero on the St. Anthony roster because coach Alicia Lemau’u is only carrying 10 players. The Saints had 15 players on the team last year, so everyone on the bench will have an important role to play this season.
“I like this young group,” Lemau’u said. “They’re more self-motivated, and that’s a great place to be as a coach.”
St. Anthony has only lost nine league games in six years under Lemau’u. The Saints reached the semifinals in her first season, and then made it to three consecutive quarterfinals from 2013-15 before winning the championship.
Last year, St. Anthony went 18-11 and lost in the second round of the Division 4 playoffs. The Saints are still in the same division, but will move from the Camino Real League to the Del Rey League with Saint Joseph, Bishop Montgomery, La Salle, St. Paul and Serra.
Saint Joseph in Lakewood is a Division 1 team that swept Millikan in the first round of the playoffs last year, and also won a CIF-SS Division 3 championship two years ago. The games between the Jesters and Saints on Sept. 25 and Oct. 10 in the regular season finale could set the tone for a great local rivalry between small private schools.
St. Anthony (8-0) hasn’t lost a set this season, and won the Pius Matthias Tournament over the weekend. The Saints won six matches in the competition, and beat Rolling Hills Prep in the championship.