The562’s coverage of Long Beach Volleyball in the 2022-23 school year is sponsored by Misty May-Treanor and the Dream in Gold Foundation.
The562’s coverage of Lakewood Athletics is sponsored by J.P. Crawford, Class of 2013.
The562’s coverage of Long Beach Wilson Athletics is sponsored by Joel Bitonio, Class of 2009.
For the second straight night, the Lakewood Lancers showed why they’re the team to beat in Moore League girls’ volleyball. Though they got a solid test from the host Wilson Bruins for the first two sets on Wednesday, the Lancers pulled away each time for a 25-18, 25-19, 25-13 win, remaining unbeaten in league play through the first round.
CLICK HERE for our coverage of Lakewood’s win over Millikan on Tuesday
Lakewood got out to early leads in all three sets, but had to fend off a feisty Bruins team that continues to grow and improve under second-year head coach Gerald Aquiningoc. Wilson was able to claw back for leads of 17-16 and 17-15 in those respective sets, but Lakewood used its veteran composure, some solid serves, and the right arm of Samarah DaCoud to shut the door on Wilson.
“Our goal is after 20 to minimize our errors,” explained Lakewood head coach Mike Wadley on his team’s success in closing out those sets. “We got to 20 and we were able to push through. We work a lot on that in practice, because you can have errors in the beginning of the first set, but in the last five points,you miss a serve, you shank one and the set’s over. So our goal is to minimize our errors after 20. It’s a big thing for us.”
Lakewood closed set one on a 9-1 run, keyed by an impressive service run from libero Cortni Youngblood. She served five straight Lancers points, including an impressive three aces, to help seal the deal in game one, 25-18.
The Lancers rolled that momentum into set two, where they took an immediate 3-0 lead thanks to three consecutive roofs. Zaria Thornton was in on all three, and ended the night with a match-high five blocks. The Lancers would eventually lead 6-2 in the second, threatening to pull away from the home team.
Wilson responded with an 8-0 run to go up 10-6, eventually forcing Wadley to use a timeout early in the set to get his squad back on track.
“I want them to see if they can figure it out,” said Wadley. “And at that point, we had to just reset. We ran a play, moved Samarah to the middle of the court, passed the ball, and we're able to take a swing.”
DeCoud delivered the side out after the timeout, and would put her team on her back the rest of the frame. She scored five straight points for Lakewood (four kills and an ace) and ended up with nine of her 13 kills in that second set. After Lakewood’s timeout, DaCoud single-handedly outscored Wilson 10-9, helping Lakewood close on another 8-1 run to finish off the set, 25-19.
In set three, the Lancers sprinted out to an 8-1 lead and never looked back. Closing out the match on a dump by Fatimah Hall.
Lakewood’s Jade Epps matched DaCoud with 13 kills to lead the Lancers, while Yougblood racked up 21 digs and three aces in another solid effort from her.
Wilson’s standout junior Chloe Pravednikov had a match-high 14 kills for the Bruins, but she wasn’t the only standout for Wilson. Libero Sydney Scott had a number of solid defensive plays against Lakewood’s heavy-hitters, recording 11 digs in the match.
Even in defeat, Aquiningoc is pleased with where his team is at halfway through the league schedule. The Bruins were 5-0 entering Wednesday’s match, and still have a shot at a league title in round two.
“It’s a testament to them being coachable and buying into the system and what we're trying to build here,” Aquiningoc said. “Against a team the caliber of Lakewood, you can't have any mishaps, any mental breakdowns, any miscommunications. We're still working to play clean, and one thing that we're stressing with this group especially is to be calm under pressure. And we're still learning right now.”
Both teams will head out to Las Vegas this weekend for the prestigious Durango Tournament, then get back into league play the following week. Lakewood visits Compton next Tuesday while Wilson hosts Millikan in a key matchup next Thursday.