Lakewood Volleyball

Lakewood High School Girls’ Volleyball Preview 2021

Expectations are high once again for the Lancers as longtime coach Mike Wadley tries to turn his group of talented players into a cohesive unit.

“We have a team that can go far in the playoffs,” Wadley said. “Two years ago we developed over time and made a good playoff run. I expect us to go through that again. They’ve all played in big matches and I feel like we’ll be a more seasoned team when the playoffs come around.”

Team captains Laura Williams, Shayna Martinez and Samarah DaCoud have all been through the Moore League battles with Poly and will set the tone at the net for the Lancers.

“We’re all very excited,” Williams said. “Our team is pretty good and we have a lot of potential. We can go far… I’m a captain so I have to have positive energy and be that spark.”


Williams has already signed her National Letter of Intent with Oregon State and the 5’11” senior will move through the rotation more efficiently for Wadley this year, but she’ll start on the right side.

“She’s a very good leader because she assumes responsibility and communicates really well,” Wadley said of Williams. “I think she can block with just about anybody. So we’ve got her going after big time blocks against the best hitters.”

The 5’10” junior DaCoud will be on the left side as the other outside hitter, and Martinez will be on the back row to bolster the defense. Junior Yvonne Barnes will also be on the left side with varsity experience.

“Our goal is to always be the best defensive team in the gym,” Wadley said. “We’re very athletic and we’ve shown that we can do some things pretty quickly.”

Rounding out the starting lineup, Keke Hall will also be key to the Lancers success as a 6’1” senior middle blocker, and the four-year varsity player will be joined by sophomore Jade Epps.

Junior Fatimah Hall is back as the starting setter, and her sister Lala Hall will also see time on the floor as a freshman. Cortni Youngblood is the first-year libero.

Sophomore Zaria Thornton will come off the bench for playing time at the net, and transfer from Redondo Union Nyla Hankins will play a big role once she is cleared to play.

Unfortunately, Lakewood lost two weeks of practice after the campus was shut down due to a positive COVID-19 test during summer school. That meant the Lancers were out of the gym and training on their own, but Wadley said his group has been resilient. 

“The practices have been really lively and we’re really excited to be back in the gym,” Wadley said. “We’re still figuring things out as a group but the kids are fantastic and it’s a joy to coach them. I think they really understand what they lost last year.”

Last weekend at its own tournament after only five days of practice, Lakewood lost its first match of the season to Torrance while making 54 errors. Later that day, the Lancers bounced back to beat Huntington Beach in five sets.

“Not one of the girls got on each other about their mistakes,” Wadley said. “They were positive. We played HB right afterwards and got after it. They were so positive it was amazing. They’re appreciative as a group and get along really well.”

Lakewood practices have also been different because of a new group of assistant coaches under Wadley. He has brought in former Warren High coach Brad Simmons, a successful local coach who he’s known for 20 years, and former Lancer libero Jessica Kaeka. Laura’s dad, Lance Williams, has also joined the coaching staff.

The Lancers are on the preseason watch list for CIF Southern Section Division 1/2 with Poly.

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JJ Fiddler
JJ Fiddler is an award-winning sportswriter and videographer who has been covering Southern California sports for multiple newspapers and websites since 2004. After attending Long Beach State and creating the first full sports page at the Union Weekly Newspaper, he has been exclusively covering Long Beach prep sports since 2007.