During a play earlier this season, Lakewood had a funny series of events. Lala Hall dug an opponent’s attack, passing it to setter Fatima Hall. Fatima set the ball up for the middle blocker, and Katesia Hall killed it, pummeling it straight down.
The three Halls involved in that play are sisters, and their energy has helped bring Lakewood deep into a historic season. The Lancers have been ranked in the top ten in the state all year, earning berths in the prestigious CIF Southern Section Division 1 and CIF State Open Division playoffs. They continue their journey on the road Wednesday in San Diego against Cathedral Catholic in the first round of the state playoffs.
“It’s pretty neat, it’s like nothing I’ve ever experienced,” said longtime Lakewood coach Mike Wadley of the Hall sisters. Their first cousin, Yvonne Barnes, is also on the team, bringing a real family atmosphere to Lakewood practices and games. “They’re also all All-League level kids. We are really lucky to have them.”
When Fatima dumps a ball for a kill, Katesia and Lala will chant “that’s my sister,” and then the rest of the team joins in. All three sisters are funny with outgoing personalities.
“They all ran for Homecoming Court, Fatima won and Lala and Keke both lost, we’ve got all kinds of stories like that,” said Wadley. “They’re always making fun of each other and cracking everyone up. But at the same time they can go from joking about something and a half second later be completely focused.”
All three Hall sisters agree that growing up playing volleyball together has helped them tremendously on the court. Because their ages are spaced out (Fatima is a senior, Keke is a junior, and Lala is a freshman) they haven’t spent a lot of time on organized teams together–but their chemistry is obvious.
“Because they’re my sisters and I’ve played with them so much, I know how they pass, I know where they want a ball set, all of that is really easy to me,” said Fatima, who recently committed to Long Beach State to continue her volleyball career.
Asked how she feels about having two sisters on her team, Keke laughed.
“I love it, and I hate it at the same time,” she said. “I love that we already have a built in trust and connection from being with each other all the time, and we have a really special bond between each other. I hate that they make fun of me all the time and I can’t get away from them–that’s how we show love though.”
According to Lala, the advantages of playing together aren’t just on the court, either.
“If any of us forget anything we have backups on campus,” she said.
Wadley is the only state championship-winning coach in Lakewood High history, and has proven adept at knowing when to push strategy, and when to push emotion. With the Halls being great players who also have a unique attachment, it’s a match made in heaven.
“I’ve really enjoyed coaching them this year and I know that they’re going to continue to be successful,” said Wadley. “We talk about family in our program, and what better way to emphasize that than with three sisters?”