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The562’s coverage of St. Anthony Girls’ Volleyball is sponsored by The Owen Family.
Former St. Anthony coach Alicia Lemau’u tried not to let her return to St. Anthony be bigger than a Del Rey League match between the Saints and visiting Saint Joseph Thursday night.
But, when she stepped foot into Jack Errion Gymnasium in her grey polo with an orange “SJ” embroidered on it, she was welcomed back with a lei from St. Anthony before the match started.
It was a symbol that the campus and student body hadn’t forgotten her 10-year tenure with the school where she won a CIF championship.
When the match was over, St. Anthony lost to Saint Joseph 25-9, 25-15, 25-23.
“When you’re somewhere for 10 years, it’s not just one player,” Lemau’u said. “Sometimes it’s a whole set of siblings, where you coach three siblings, two girls and one guy and that’s where the love is.”
The Saints got off to a rough start as the Jesters had 10 aces throughout the match that halted any momentum St. Anthony tried to get going in the first two sets.
However, behind senior Rylee Tuaolo the Saints battled in the final set and tied things at 20 until Saint Joseph’s Sasha Luzina closed things out to finish the night with 13 kills.
Tuaolo had a game-high 16 kills in the match.
“I’m super proud of my kids,” St. Anthony coach Keli Pula said. “We stepped up big time, you can see the differences from last season.”
After the match concluded, the appreciation continued for Lemau’u as former players, colleagues and parents made her trip out of the gym hard as everyone came up to talk to her.
The Saints will be back in action seeking their first league win when they travel to San Pedro to take on Mary Star of the Sea next Thursday.