After the first set of Lakewood and Long Beach Poly’s Moore League season-opening battle on Tuesday afternoon, Lancers head coach Mike Wadley got his team’s attention.
“I told them, how awesome is this?,” he said. “We’re actually in the gym, we’re competing, after not having a season at all last year.”
It was fitting that he encouraged his team to enjoy the moment, because Tuesday afternoon was about as dominant a performance as the Lakewood/Poly rivalry has seen over the last two decades. Matches have usually been tight between the two teams, who have won the last eight Moore League titles. Things were pretty much all Lakewood on Tuesday, as the Lancers wept Poly 25-16, 25-16, 25-14.
While it’s been a few years since Lakewood beat Poly in such dominant fashion, Wadley wasn’t taking any victory laps, pointing out that USC signee Rylie McGinest was sidelined for Poly and that fellow USC signee Adonia Faumuina was in her first match back from an ankle injury.
“Let’s be realistic, let’s take it with a grain of salt,” said Wadley. “I’m 100% aware that they’re going to be a different team when we play them next. This happened with us a couple years ago when they played us when our best players were hurt. But it still feels good, and we’re happy about this one.”
Poly took a 9-5 lead in the first set thanks in large part to the Lancers’ spraying some hits long and wide, but they tied it up at 12-12 and then closed on a 13-4 run from there. Lakewood led wire to wire in the second and third sets and easily put off a Poly charge in the third frame.
Middle blocker Keke Hall had a team-high 10 kills and six digs in the win; she said she and her teammates weren’t surprised by the result.
“We came in with that confidence,” she said. “It feels great–it’s my first time beating Poly since I’ve been here. Our whole team was working together today.”
Lakewood passed well to setter Fatima Hall, who was effective spreading the ball around and utilizing her middles, and dumping it for a point as well. Samara DaCoud had 10 kills as well for the Lancers, and Oregon State signee Laura Williams had six kills and three aces.
For Poly, struggles to pass the ball led to struggles to set the ball, as Faumuina and Halie McGinest (Rylie’s younger sister) didn’t often have great balls to set. Faumuina ended up as Poly’s leading scorer with just six kills, as Poly only mustered 17 kills total in the match.
“I think the culture piece is what’s most important for us,” said Poly coach Megan Moenoa. “Practicing and fighting and training like we have our full squad even if we don’t, we want to focus on that and I didn’t like that part of our game today,” she said. “I feel like we started to play with some heart and scrappiness in the last 10 points of game three, but we need to come out like that.”
Lakewood will host Jordan on Thursday and Poly will visit Millikan Tuesday to continue the Moore League slate.