Long Beach Poly girls’ volleyball often plays the first match of the day at the Steve Lewis Volleyfest, and the Jackrabbits often come out looking a little sleepy. Poly faced a tough St. Joseph team on Saturday afternoon and needed a set to shake the cobwebs off before dialing in to win a thriller with the Jesters 21-25, 25-6, 22-25, 25-23, 15-10.
“I think it’s my fault,” said Poly coach Leland McGrath. “I think I’m not mean enough on Saturdays—a happy coach doesn’t make for an intense team.”
In the first set Poly fell behind 17-8 before rallying to trail just 22-21, but the Jesters were able to hold on for the win. In the second set the Jackrabbits took over on the end line as Victoria Verceles had two aces and Sofia Skukan had three as part of a 12-0 service run to end the set. Skukan had 14 digs for the Jackrabbits as well. St. Joseph took the third set and forced Poly to rally from down 21-19 in the fourth set. Poly got kills from Allanah Cutler and Adonia Faumuina to force a fifth set, where Cutler and freshman Riley McGinest locked it down.
Cutler had 22 kills in the match to lead the Jackrabbits, while McGinest had 15 kills (with no hitting errors) and seven blocks. McGinest had five kills and two blocks in the fifth frame. She said she’s enjoying playing varsity as a frosh.
“It’s fun playing with older girls, they’re really helping me get better,” said McGinest.
McGrath said he was impressed with his freshman middle blocker.
“She’s the big easy,” he said. “She’s effortless but she really works. She’s a blue collar worker with a ton of talent.”
Poly also got 13 digs from Alexis Durand.
St. Joseph was led by Kara Green, who had five of her team’s seven kills in the final set.
Poly will face Wilson on Tuesday afternoon as they begin the second round of Moore League play.