Long Beach Poly’s girls’ volleyball team didn’t just dominate Mira Costa in a sweep in the first round of the CIF Southern Section Division 1 playoffs. The Jackrabbits dominated in their way, with physicality at the net and a ton of weapons all over the court. Poly prevailed at home against the Mustangs 25-20, 25-20, 25-23.
“Our kids were excited, we’ve got some seniors who’ve been in these matches and who know what they’re doing,” said Poly coach Leland McGrath.
One of those seniors is Liz Schuster, the Poly setter who piled up 33 assists, 11 digs, and an ace. Schuster spread the ball evenly, with seven Jackrabbits getting at least five kills in the win. As usual, she called her own number at the right times, with three kills on four attempts.
Schuster said that while she was happy her team got the sweep, she wasn’t satisfied with how they played.
“I think we have the potential to play a lot better,” she said. Poly will have to if they want another win; the Jackrabbits host Mater Dei on Wednesday in the quarterfinals. The Monarchs are the top-seed in the Division 1 bracket and are the top-ranked team in the nation.
“I think a lot of us were thinking about Mater Dei already, and we shouldn’t have been,” said Schuster.
Poly trailed 16-14 in the first set before a nice service run from Grace Abdoo helped put them on top, then the Jackrabbits led wire to wire in the second set. In the third, Poly took their feet off the gas pedal, as the Mustangs jumped out to a 13-7 lead. But with Abdoo serving again, Poly went on a 6-0 run that leaned heavily on Onye Ofoegbue, the team’s senior middle blocker.
Ofoegbue finished with 12 kills and five blocks in the match, and during Poly’s 6-0 run she had three kills on a block to help put Poly on top. Poly closed that set on a 13-5 run.
“Onye is pretty dynamic,” said McGrath. “She can really change a game very quickly.”
The UC Irvine commit was dominant in the CIF-SS playoffs last year as well, with 13 blocks against Huntington Beach. “It feels like it’s been so long, I’m just so happy to have the excitement of CIF,” she said.
Poly’s passing was pretty crisp, and Allanah Cutler went all-out on the back row. In addition to a team-high 14 kills she also had 11 digs. Sofia Skukan and Alexis Durand combined for 14 digs. Taylor Walker had a great match with eight kills, and freshman Adonia Faumuina had eight and two blocks. Freshman Rylie McGinest had six kills and two blocks.
Up next for Poly is the ultimate challenge of the Monarchs, who Poly will host Wednesday at 6 p.m. The win over Mira Costa guarantees Poly a berth in the state playoffs.