Two years ago, Lakewood girls’ volleyball coach Mike Wadley put a nail in his wall. There wasn’t anything to hang on it yet, but he knew there would be.
“We were good enough to be a league champion in 2019 and we didn’t get it done, then we didn’t get to play last year,” he said. “This means a lot to the kids, and to our school. We waited for two years to put a league championship plaque up on that nail, but we knew we’d get it.”
The Lancers have all but clinched their first Moore League title since 2017 after a dominant sweep of rival Long Beach Poly on Thursday, 25-14, 25-12, 25-21.
Lakewood still has to complete the rest of the second round of Moore League, but they’ve yet to drop a set in league and even if they were to lose to both Millikan and Wilson (who they swept in the first round), they’d still end up in first place as they’re already two matches clear of everyone else in the league.
“This is a special group, we knew they were good but they’ve been special all year,” said Wadley.
The Lancers (17-3) have won 11 matches in a row and are currently ranked No. 3 in the CIF-SS Division 1 rankings, as well as No. 3 in the CIF State rankings for California. They’re as good a team–in any sport–as the Moore League has fielded in a few years, a pressure they’ve carried nobly so far this year.
As is usually the case in Lakewood/Poly matches, the crowd was lively and the student sections were loud and going back and forth, giving the match a playoff atmosphere.
“Being at home in front of all of our football, baseball, basketball players made it really fun,” said Lancers middle Keke Hall, who had 10 kills and five blocks. “They had the crowd shaking so we were all excited.”
The action on the court was dominated by Lakewood, as they applied pressure in all aspects of the game throughout the match, out-serving, out-blocking, and out-hitting Poly.
The Lancers led 13-4 in set one, 12-1 in set two, and 5-1 in set three. The third set was the closest of the match with Poly tying it at 10-10 before a 5-0 Lakewood run shut it down. The Lancers’ approach has been a balanced one all year, and they maintained that philosophy on Thursday.
Hall had 10 kills, Laura Williams had nine, and Samarah DaCoud and Shayna Martinez each had eight. Setter Fatima Hall once again distributed the ball evenly and guided the Lancers to a .359 hitting clip.
For the Jackrabbits, the good news was the healthy return of USC-bound senior Adonia Faumuina, who split time at outside hitter and setter for the Jackrabbits. Faumuina had a team-high six kills. The Jackrabbits are still without their other USC-bound senior, Rylie McGinest, who is out with injury. If there’s been a bright spot in this frustrating season for first-year head coach Megan Moenoa, it’s the development and fire of sophomore Halie McGinest, Rylie’s younger sister. Thrust into the setter position, she’s developed impressively over the last month, and still contributed five kills and two solo blocks for Poly on Thursday.
“It’s nice to see Adonia back out there looking healthier and happier, but it’s frustrating for all of us right now,” said Moenoa. “I’m glad that we’re making progress but at times it feels like it’s millimeter by millimeter. We’ve just got to keep going.”
Poly will try to show how far they’ve progressed in a rematch with Millikan next Thursday, after having lost to the Rams in five sets in the first round. Lakewood will try to keep the train rolling as they host Mayfair on Saturday at 6 p.m. for the Steve Lewis Volleyfest, and then head to the South Bay for the Redondo Tournament next week.