Poly Volleyball
Long Beach Poly Volleyball

PREVIEW: Long Beach Poly Girls’ Volleyball

If you were buying stock in Moore League girls’ volleyball teams, the price on the Long Beach Poly Jackrabbits would be going up. Last year Poly snapped a five-year league title streak for Lakewood, and this year they’re poised to capture their third consecutive Moore League title for what would be the first time since 1992-94. The Jackrabbits feature some of the best players in the nation and are deeper than they’ve been since they won the 2010 Division 1 CIF-SS championship.

“This team isn’t full of girls who are peaking the way that team was, but we’re really athletic,” said Poly coach Leland McGrath. “And they all like each other, we’ve got great chemistry.”

The top-of-the-list talent for the Jackrabbits are setter/outside hitter Adonia Faumuina and middle blocker Rylie McGinest, both sophomores. The duo were named to the USA Volleyball Girls Junior National Championships All-Tournament team over the summer and stood out among a gathering of the best players in the nation, earning both of them USA Volleyball youth camp invites. Faumuina was one of seven sophomores named to the 15s All-American list by Volleyball Magazine last week.

“We’re pretty excited,” said Faumuina. “High school season is a lot of fun, we like playing in front of the school and with a different group of girls.”

The players around the star duo are exceptional as well. Setting alongside Faumuina in a 6-2 system will be senior Pearl Tuliau, from a family with a long line of talented Poly grads. On the right side of the net, Washington State soccer signee Aniah Cutler looks like the go-to option, while 6’2” Elle Requejo will be one of the other featured pin hitters. With Requejo earning Big West offers, that gives Poly four Division 1-level athletes at the net, all 6-foot or taller.

What sets Poly apart is their depth, however. Kaia Brown is another skilled middle, and the Jackrabbits are likely to block a lot of balls this season with Brown and the other front-row players. Alex Brown and Kamy Anaya are another pair of athletic pin hitters who will see a lot of time this year.

On the back row, accomplished beach player Grace Abdoo is stepping into the libero position for her senior year, with sophomore Meredith Houston helping to add some depth passing the ball.

“I think the strength of our team is that everyone is willing to work,” said McGinest.

The Jackrabbits are a young team, with several underclassmen in starting or support roles, but because Faumuina and McGinest were both major contributors as freshmen, they’re still an experienced team. The mix of talent around the floor, the team’s depth at several positions, and the chemistry of his squad early in the year has McGrath optimistic about the season.

“It’s going to be really fun to see what this team can do,” he said. 

The Jackrabbits will find out quickly, as McGrath has them playing the best teams in Southern California early on. Poly opens up as the top seed in the Lakewood/Molten Tournament, travels to the Durango Fall Classic in September, and has early nonleague matches against Marymount, Harvard-Westlake, Redondo Union, and Newport Harbor.

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Mike Guardabascio
An LBC native, Mike Guardabascio has been covering Long Beach sports professionally for 13 years, with his work published in dozens of Southern California magazines and newspapers. He's won numerous awards for his writing as well as the CIF Southern Section’s Champion For Character Award, and is the author of three books about Long Beach history.