The562’s coverage of volleyball in the 2022-23 school year is sponsored by Misty-May Treanor and the Dream in Gold Foundation.
Lakewood won the 2021 Moore League girls’ volleyball championship in dominant fashion, and the Lancers look poised to do it again. Following a strong nonleague start to the season which saw them sweep Mater Dei, the Lancers opened Moore League play with a dominant sweep of Long Beach Poly on the road 25-21, 25-14, 25-19.
The Lancers or Jackrabbits have won every league title since 2012, lending an extra sense of importance to Lakewood starting so well.
“We know it’s not going to be easy, especially coming here to their place,” said Lakewood coach Mike Wadley. “I reminded our team that they have seniors as well–they don’t want to lose to us. So when we were up 2-0 I reminded them they’re not going to go away. It’s just not going to happen, not here. So it was a lesson for us.”
The gym was sweltering with 90-degree heat for the match, with a loud and rowdy crowd and frosh-soph/JV teams who were as into the action from the stands as the teams were on the court.
Poly gained momentum with a big run at the end of the second set and carried that over to jump out to a 16-12 lead in the third. But the Lancers closed that set on a 10-1 run and controlled the match almost from start to finish, with the speed of their offense proving hard for the Jackrabbits to keep up with.
Jade Epps is one of the standouts for Lakewood so far, and she had 16 kills on .324 hitting, 10 digs, and four aces.
Epps said her team has turned a corner as far as on and off court chemistry.
“We’ve been working really well as a team lately, we all really support each other,” she said. “We congratulate each other and we pick each other up.”
Other leaders for the Lancers with their veteran lineup were Samarah DaCoud (12 kills), Fatima Hall (31 assists), and Cortni Youngblood (14 digs)..
For the Jackrabbits, the result may not have been what they were hoping for, but a new Poly lineup showed great promise with Josephine Gore and Malia Holm setting and Halie McGinest moved to her more natural position as a pin hitter. McGinest led the Jackrabbits with nine kills, backed up by seven from promising sophomore middle Layla Moore.
“We just need to find some consistency with that lineup and just keep going with it,” said Poly coach Megan Moenoa. “We’re getting better.”
Wadley said he’s expecting a much different Poly team when the teams meet again for the second time at Lakewood on Sept. 27.
“They have the players, they just don’t have the experience yet,” he said. “Once they do it’s going to be a different story.”
Lakewood will travel to Jordan Tuesday then host Rancho Cucamonga Thursday at LBCC, while Poly will host Millikan on Thursday at 5 p.m.