The Jackrabbits will try to win a fourth consecutive Moore League championship this year, for the first time in program history–and they’ll have a former league rival running the show. Lakewood alum Megan Moenoa was Poly’s splashy hire to replace Leland McGrath two years ago, but after the 2020 season was canceled, Moenoa had to wait to see her team on the court.
“I’ve had two years to continue to think about the decision, but what still rings true for me is that Poly is the only high school that aligns with why I’ve always wanted to coach,” she said. “Being back in the community, seeing myself in these girls and them seeing themselves in me. The diversity and culture of this team and school are why the only high school I would coach is Long Beach Poly.”
Moenoa inherits a Jackrabbits program with a generational senior class, featuring a pair of USC signees in Adonia Faumuina and Rylie McGinest, both of whom are in the top 100 recruits in the senior class and both of whom have youth national team experience. Faumuina, a 6-foot-2 hitter/setter, is one of the absolute best in the country and ranked the No. 3 recruit in the senior class by Volleyball Magazine. Lakewood coach Mike Wadley said she’s as good as he’s seen in his quarter century in the city.
“We’ve had a lot of good players go through this league and we have a lot of good players this year, but I’d put Adonia up with Cynthia Barboza and Rebecca Strehlow, those are the only ones I’ve seen at her level,” said Wadley.
Faumuina and McGinest have been club teammates and friends since they were 12, and the duo are looking forward to having their senior season together before heading off to USC. It’s been a jump for them taking the floor for practice at Poly this year–last time they did, they were the talented sophomores on a senior-laden team. This year they’re the seniors, expected to lead a team with championship aspirations.
“It’s been an adjustment for us,” said Faumuina. “We’re getting used to it and figuring it out with our coaches. I feel like we really took volleyball for granted and after last year we’re not going to do that again. We’re so excited to represent Poly again.”
“It’s nice to have someone like her that I’ve known for a long time to go on this journey with,” said McGinest.
It’s far from a two-woman show at Poly. The duo are joined by plenty of new and returning talent, including McGinest’s little sister, Halie, who will likely split setting and hitting duties with Faumuina in a 6-2 system, while Rylie anchors the middle as one of the top MBs in the country.
Meredith Houston, who’s been a back-row contributor, is stepping up as a hitter, along with JoJo Fuamatu. In the back row, freshman Taylor Mercado is an insanely tenacious freshman who looks like a potential four-year starter at libero, but Poly is deeper in the back row than they’ve been in recent seasons, which Moenoa is excited about.
“We have a lot of volleyball IQ and a lot of scrappy players who will help us passing,” said Moenoa.
Just as important as the players on the court is the connection between them, and both Faumuina and McGinest said that Moenoa and her staff have emphasized culture throughout their training camp. Of course, that’s not hard to do with this particular team, which represents so much of Poly’s history and tradition.
A mix of different races and backgrounds, the Jackrabbits also boast second or third-generation Poly students throughout the roster. That group includes the McGinest sisters, the daughters of Poly football great Willie McGinest, as well as Houston, the granddaughter of Greta McGree, who founded Poly’s CIC magnet program.
“I get chills thinking about that,” said Moenoa. “Seeing these young women work together as a team, that’s the ultimate goal. So many different backgrounds coming together and embracing it. That’s who we are, that’s Long Beach Poly, that’s Long Beach.”
That mixture of talent and tradition has expectations sky high for this special group, and Moenoa isn’t backing away from that.
“We want to win, that’s always going to be our goal here,” said Moenoa. “The goal is to win CIF championships, and state championships.”