The St. Anthony girls’ volleyball team is no stranger to back and forth matches this season, and the Saints used those experiences to edge Cerritos at home on Saturday night 28-26, 14-25, 26-24, 25-19 in the second round of the CIF Southern Section Division 5 playoffs.
St. Anthony (21-10) will host a third round match at 6 p.m. on Wednesday. It is the sixth quarterfinals appearance in the last seven years for the Saints under coach Alicia Lemau’u.
“This has been the emotional roller coaster of our season,” Lemau’u said. “That’s a normal thing for us. Somehow this team figures out how to make it work. The two-point games are cliche to me at this point.”
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St. Anthony was led by a match-high 14 kills from Camille Harvey, and the junior said the season prepared her team for tough matches like this one.
“It’s just about focusing on the ball that’s coming over and trusting our passers,” Harvey said. “We practice keeping up all of the time. Those games makes us want to fight more and play harder.”
St. Anthony fell behind early in the first set, but used a balanced attack to erase a seven-point deficit and tie the match 24-24. After three tied scores, a kill from sophomore Jaena Bell ended up giving the Saints the set victory, 28-26.
Bell had four of her 11 kills in the first set for St. Anthony, while Sam Ashworth and Gabby McPherson each chipped in nine kills. Junior setter Isabella Bareford finished with 48 assists.
“They’re young, and they’re always hungry,” Lemau’u said of her team. “That holds them together.”
Cerritos (24-4) rode a great performance from junior Nicole Blue to take the second set 25-14, but St. Anthony used its defense to bounce back and win the third set 26-24. The Saints finished the night with 12 blocks.
With the third set tied 23-23, Bareford found Harvey for one of the biggest points of the night. The Saints rode that momentum to the fourth-set victory.
“The last two weeks she’s been showing up to be a leader,” Lemau’u said of Harvey. “She’s been working on consistency and being a presence on the floor and the whole team is recognizing it.”