It was a sweet homecoming for St. Anthony boys’ volleyball coach Alicia Lemau’u, as the Long Beach Poly grad took her Saints into her alma mater’s gym and came away with a big win. With the match tied 1-1, the Saints won a wild third set and went on to win, 21-25, 25-16, 29-27, 25-14.
“Our attention was just on a good, local Long Beach volleyball match,” said Lemau’u. “This was fun for me, but I’m really happy for the boys, I think they’re clicking right now. They’ve built this program the last three years.”
The result is a Saints squad that is top five in their CIF-SS Division and now owns wins over Poly, Millikan, and Wilson. They needed to be battle-tested for what ended up being a wild one at Poly.
After the two teams split the first two sets in a relatively straightforward fashion, the third set got crazy. Poly led 20-17 before the Saints came back to tie it, then led 24-20. With set point currently in play and a kill attempt by Poly looking likely to find the ground, the play was blown dead because the foam safety cushion had fallen off the net and onto the floor. When the point was replayed, the Saints won it, and then proceeded to get two aces from libero Jesse DeLeon Sandaval to tie it at 24. Poly was up 25-24 and a kill attempt by St. Anthony went wide, causing the chair ref to signal set point for the Jackrabbits. The corner flagsman signaled for a touch, which caused the chair ref to call him over and, after a brief conference, award the point to St. Anthony, tying it at 25. The Saints ended up winning after a big kill from Nicky Mizraji and a block from Long Beach State commit Aidan Grosz.
After the narrow third set victory, the Saints easily won the fourth. Grosz finished with 11 kills and three blocks, backed up by 10 kills from Mizraji.
“We’ve beaten the top Long Beach teams now, that’s a big deal for us,” said Grosz, who said the team was fired up to help Lemau’u to a win in her old stomping grounds. “She just said it’s been 16 years and she wanted to come back and beat them.”