Long Beach Poly’s promising girls’ volleyball season came to an end on the road in the first round of the CIF State Open Division playoffs. The Jackrabbits had expected to be in the Division 1 bracket but were instead the lowest seed in the Open Division, with a road trip to top-seeded Mater Dei as their reward.
It would have been easy for the Jackrabbits to pout about the draw, but instead they came out and played one of their best matches of the season, taking a set off top-ranked Mater Dei in their gym, falling 25-27, 25-20, 25-20, 25-19.
Poly coach Leland McGrath was proud that his team stepped up to the moment and didn’t shy away from it.
“The truth is we’re a powerhouse too, and we played like one,” he said. “Put us in front of anyone in the country and they’re going to be looking at a team that causes them problems.”
Poly came out blazing in the first set with some of their best passing of the year, giving setter Liz Schuster a ton of options to set on each play. She worked the middle with Onye Ofoegbue (who had six kills and three blocks in the first set) to help give Poly a big lead, 17-11.
The Monarchs responded and ended up tying the game at 19, and would take a 24-23 lead. Poly got a kill from Onye Ofoegbue and an ace from Victoria Verceles, then ended up winning the set on a kill by Allanah Cutler.
In the second set Poly took an 18-16 lead after back-to-back aces from Verceles but the Monarchs ripped off a 6-0 run with Mia Tuaniga serving and took control of the frame. After a third-set Mater Dei win it looked like poly could come back in the fourth, trailing just 17-16, but another long service run put Mater Dei up 24-16 and they won it after Poly fought off three match points.
Schuster, Cutler, and Ofoegbue had strong offensive nights in their final performance as Jackrabbits, while freshman Adona Faumuina showed how bright the future is for Poly with 13 kills. She and fellow freshman Rylie McGinest went toe-to-toe with the Monarchs and will form the core of a talented team next season.
St. Anthony swept by Ontario Christian
St. Anthony was dropped in the second round of the CIF State Division 3 playoffs by the same team that eliminated them from the CIF-SS semifinals, as they were swept by Ontario Christian 25-22, 25-17, 25-17.
The Saints (23-12) were led by Camille Harvey’s nine kills.