The562’s season previews for the 2022-23 school year are sponsored by Vertical Raise, the official team fundraising partner of The562.
The562’s volleyball coverage is sponsored by Misty May-Treanor and the Dream in Gold Foundation
It wasn’t the year that Megan Moenoa was hoping for in her debut season coaching at Long Beach Poly. The talent-rich Jackrabbits were besieged by injuries all 2021 and limped to a third-place finish in the Moore League, with an 8-4 league record and an 11-17 overall record. The Jackrabbits graduated USC-bound Adonia Faumuina and Rylie McGinest among a large and experienced senior class, as well.
Despite those big losses, Moenoa and the Jackrabbits are optimistic about 2022 and the future.
“I think it being my second year helps, we’re a more stable program, a lot of that is me being able to wrap my head around everything now,” she said. “I know what’s happening the first week, the second week, what we should be doing in August and September.”
The Jackrabbits’ featured player this year will be junior Halie McGinest, younger sister of Rylie. McGinest was forced to switch from her natural opposite hitter position to setter last year, and is likely to still spend a good portion of the season setting. She threw herself into the new role last season, and her growth within a short timespan was impressive, a sign of not just a talented player but a fierce competitor as well.
“She’s one of those kids who has that attitude,” said Moenoa. “If she sees a hole that needs to be filled she’s going to fill it. If we’re having a bad passing day in practice she’s like, ‘I’m going to go pass.’ She wants to be in a position where she can help the team win–she’s stubborn, she’s competitive. She’s been around high level volleyball for a long time now.”
Two setters who could help take the load off would be Josephine Gore and Malia Holm, both of whom could see time at the position this year, which would free McGinest up to hit.
Poly does have some returning weapons including Saniya Kimbrough and Emma Holder, who will be the pin hitters for Poly, as well as Imajaleah Goggins, a returning starter at middle blocker, where she’ll be joined by Layla Moore and Kristen Dear.
Arguably Poly’s biggest strength is going to be the Jackrabbits’ back row, where returning libero Taylor Mercado is a star, with JoJo Fuamatu another great back row player.
Moenoa has been enjoying the process of putting the team together through the Fall camp.
“There’s a lot of glimpses of hope and things happening in our gym where I can see that we’re moving in the right direction,” she said.
The Moore League is also getting more competitive by the year, with Wilson and Millikan inserting themselves into the league title race for the first time in a decade. Moenoa welcomed the challenge and, as a Lakewood alum, said she was happy to see more parity in the league.
“It’s great to see it not just be Poly and Lakewood,” she said. “The league is getting more competitive, there’s no cakewalks–that keeps things fun and competitive that’s good for all the kids.”The Jackrabbits will face Torrance High (2 p.m.) and St. Joseph’s (6 p.m.) at Artesia this Saturday to open pool play for the Tae Kim Lakewood/Molten Classic. They’ll be squaring off with a proud Poly alum when they face the Jesters, as former St. Anthony coach and former Jackrabbit Alicia Lemau’u was recently named the head coach at St. Joe’s.