The562’s coverage of volleyball in the 2022-23 school year is sponsored by Misty May-Treanor and the Dream in Gold Foundation.
The562’s coverage of Millikan athletics in the 2022-23 school year is sponsored by Curtis Boyer.
The562’s coverage of Long Beach Poly athletics in the 2022-23 school year is sponsored by Poly alum Jayon Brown and PlayFair Sports Management.
The Millikan girls’ volleyball team wanted to make a statement that their win over Long Beach Poly last year wasn’t a fluke, and the Rams did exactly that. With dynamic middle blocker Aaliyah Fasavalu back in the mix after missing most of last year due to injury, Millikan put up an impressive four-set road victory over the Jackrabbits, 26-24, 25-16, 15-25, 25-18.
“We’ve been waiting for this match,” said Fasavalu, who had 12 kills and five blocks to lead Millikan. “Last year we won and we wanted to do it again.”
Millikan coach Ashleigh Atsaros was happy with how her team played.
“They’re feeling great, they’re super excited,” she said. The Rams are off to a strong start to the season with their only league blemish so far a four-set loss to Wilson. They’ll face Lakewood next week as they try to stay in the hunt.
“Having Aaliyah back in the middle is huge, we have a great outside in Elle (Lundahl) but I feel like spreading our offense is what sets us apart,” she said.
Service pressure was also key for the Rams as they had five aces in the first set and 11 aces in the match.
The first set saw Poly leading late, 23-19, but the Rams battled back with a kill from Fasavalu and a host of Poly hitting errors, eventually taking the first frame 26-24. In the second set the Rams rode that momentum to a big lead out of the gate as they went up 14-9, then slammed the door on a long 8-0 service run from setter Alessia Filocamo.
The Jackrabbits battled back in the third set they jumped out to an 8-2 lead with an ace from Larissa Foster. They led late once again and this time libero Taylor Mercado was able to help her team close it out with an 8-0 service run of her own, including a pair of aces.
In the fourth, Millikan was ready to get out of the hot gym and led wire to wire after starting the frame with a 5-0 lead.
“The bread and butter for this team is service pressure,” said Atsaros. “If we can get the other team out of system, that’s when we do our best, and I thought we served well tonight.”
Millikan was led by Fasavalu (12 kills, five blocks), Lundahl (eight kills), and Olivia Smith (five kills). Poly was led by seven kills from Imajaleah Goggins, five from middle Layla Moore, and five from Foster. The Jackrabbits struggled to hit a high percentage as they had 21 hitting errors in the match. Poly was without starting outside hitter Halie McGinest in the match.
“We’re right there, I think it’s a confidence thing for us at this point,” said Poly coach Megan Moenoa. “I think we are training hard and having really good practices. But at this point the pressure to win is really heavy, and I think I can see that in the girls’ play when it gets down to the wire.”