Long Beach Poly and Lakewood’s girls’ volleyball teams share one of the Moore League’s best rivalries–for two of the last three years they’ve shared the league crown as well. That changed on Tuesday afternoon as the Jackrabbits swept the Lancers to take sole possession of this year’s league championship with a 25-23, 25-16, 25-21 win.
It’s Poly’s third title in four years but their first un-shared championship since 2012. It also snaps a streak of five straight years with at least a share of the title for Lakewood.
“There was a big difference for us between sharing it and having it by ourselves,” said Poly senior Liz Schuster. “We worked so hard, now we’re up there where they’ve been.”
Schuster was the best player on the floor Tuesday with 32 assists, seven kills, eight digs, three blocks, and two aces, impacting every facet of the game.
The Jackrabbits trailed 20-14 in the first set before a block by Schuster and Rylie McGinest put the ball in Schuster’s hand on the back line. She served up a 6-0 run that included a pair of aces, and Poly ended up winning the set 25-23, closing on an 11-3 run.
“We had a big lead in the first set and we just couldn’t pass it,” said Lakewood coach Mike Wadley. “Then we miss a serve at 24, a serve at 25. We weren’t ready. With a team as hungry as Poly we had to answer that. We were the hunted today, not the hunter.”
Poly led comfortably in the second set as the Lancers looked shell-shocked, with Poly jumping out to a 15-5 lead. In the third set Poly went up 8-1 but Lakewood battled back and stayed within a few points. Schuster had a bevy of weapons and she spread the ball to all of them, as Allanah Cutler had 12 kills, Adonia Faumuina had seven, Schuster had seven, McGinest had six, Onye Ofoegbue had six, and Taylor Walker had four.
For Lakewood, setter Moni Vivao tallied 24 assists and 12 digs, but Julia Crawford was the only Lancer with more than four kills, racking up 16 kills and 13 digs.
“Lakewood has done such a good job for so long, all the work Mike has done over there, it’s just cool to have the title outright,” said Poly coach Leland McGrath.
Poly got a tremendous match from Sofia Skukan in the libero jersey as she tallied 15 digs, anchoring the back row along with Alexis Durand, supplying the passing needed to let Schuster spread the ball around. The Poly block came alive as well, as the Jackrabbits came up with nine stuffs in the three-set sweep.
Both teams will now prepare for the playoffs, with the CIF-SS playoff brackets set to be released this Saturday. Poly and Lakewood were both ranked in the top 12 in Division 1-2 bracket and are both likely to make the Division 1 bracket.