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Lakewood Long Beach Poly Millikan Volleyball Wilson

Volleyball: Steve Lewis Volleyfest Returns to Lakewood For Full-Day Event

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.

The562’s coverage of Millikan athletics in the 2022-23 school year is sponsored by Curtis Boyer.

For the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic, Lakewood girls’ volleyball coach Mike Wadley was able to host a full-day Steve Lewis Volleyfest in the Lancers’ gym, with Wilson, Millikan, and Long Beach Poly all competing. The Lancers weren’t able to play in their usual nightcap due to their opponent canceling, but Wadley was still happy to see the full-day event return for its 18th incarnation.

“It was really nice to see our league teams that were here with Poly, Wilson, and Millikan, and then St. Joseph as well,” said Wadley. “All local, all great people.”

Wadley founded the event in 2005 to honor his close friend and former Lakewood volleyball coach Steve Lewis, who passed away of cancer in 2004. The event has always featured local teams playing opponents with Long Beach ties, and that was the case this weekend, too. What’s been strange for Wadley is morphing from the young coach on the block 20 years ago to being one of the senior figures in the local volleyball world.

“I never thought I’d think of myself as the old guy, but apparently I am,” he said. “I’m looking around and seeing (Megan Moenoa) coaching Poly who I coached here, seeing Alicia (Lemau’u) at St. Joseph, Ashleigh Atsaros at Millikan who we coached against when she was at Huntington Beach. Gerald Aquiningoc at Wilson is a great guy–the younger generation we have in the league is really good. I’m just glad to be the old guy who’s still here ticking.”

Millikan def. St. Paul 3-0 (by JJ Fiddler)

Millikan opened the Steve Lewis VolleyFest with a dominant 25-8, 25-12, 25-15 win over St. Paul.

Setter Alessia Filocamo did a great job spreading the ball around to her teammates as Elle Lundahl, Jacklyn Frost and Olivia Martinez each put down a handful of kills in the win.

“We’re focused on our mental game,” Martinez said of getting the most out of blowout wins. “It’s a lot of what we can do about it and how can we get better in the future? We learned a lot from playing Wilson and we learned we have to adjust quickly.”

Millikan came up short in a disappointing loss at Wilson on Thursday, but Rams coach Ashleigh Atsaros is happy with how her team has responded in the last few days. 

“They came into the gym wanting to get better,” Atsaros said. “Sometimes it’s hard to come into the gym the next day and put on a happy face and play your heart out, but that’s exactly what they did.”

Atsaros, who played her high school volleyball at Huntington Beach High School, said she knows how rare and special the Steve Lewis VolleyFest really is for the Moore League.

“In my day when we played in the Sunset League we never had anything like this,” Atsaros said. “I never felt close to my competitors. But here I do. I feel like the Moore League is a family.”

Torrance def. Wilson 3-1 (by JJ Fiddler)

It looked like Wilson was up for taking the second match of the Steve Lewis VolleyFest against Torrance, but an injury shifted the momentum and Torrance bounced back from losing the first set to take it 16-25, 25-16, 27-25, 25-19.

Wilson outside hitter Alannah Smith was taken out of the third set due to injury and that forced the Bruins to switch their rotations and gave Torrance a chance to move their defensive block.

“She could’ve played through it but I felt like there’s more season to play for so I wanted to rest her,” Wilson coach Gerald Aquiningoc said of Smith. “If we had her we would win that match.”

Chloe Pravednikov finished with a team-high 17 kills and 13 digs while senior Sydney Scott scored 10 points on her serve while moving into Smith’s spot.

“Today we just couldn’t put the ball away,” Scott said. “With (Smith) injured we had to adjust on the fly. We’ve got to rely more on each other. Our outside hitters get fed like 90 percent of the time. We’re trying to get our middles and opposite hitters to be more of a threat so we’re not getting double blocked on the outside. It will make it easier for us to limit long rallies and long runs that tire us out.”

Wilson looked great in the first set while taking a 9-2 lead. Pravednikov and Smith got after it down the stretch to take the lead, however, Torrance used a 8-0 run to take a lead and win the second set 25-16.

The third set was hotly contested until Smith was taken out. Wilson led 23-19 but Torrance came charging back to fend off a pair of set points and take the lead 27-25.

Torrance rolled that momentum over and took the third set with another late run 25-19.

Scott said the match was unlike most midseason matches for the Bruins.

“It felt like a league game, but at the same time it didn’t,” said Scott, who knows a few Torrance players personally. “Having Poly and Lakewood sitting (in the stands) watching was a little bit intimidating, especially since we’re competing with them for second and first in league.”

Aquiningoc is in his second year coaching Wilson, so this is his first Steve Lewis VolleyFest experience.

“I really appreciate that (Lakewood coach Mike Wadley) puts this on and it’s great for our league,” Aquiningoc said. “I’m all for it and it’s awesome.”

Long Beach Poly def. St. Joseph 3-1 (by Tyler Hendrickson)

Long Beach Poly closed out the day with a four-set win over Saint Joseph, bouncing back after dropping the first set to claim a 24-26, 25-18, 25-16, 25-15 win.

It was a sign of progress for the Jackrabbits, who showed glimpses of some of their early season struggles late in that first game. Poly led 24-22 but dropped four straight points to lose the set and fall behind in the match. Between sets, head coach Megan Moenoa challenged her team to shake off that opening set and overcome their lapse in concentration.

“I think the first set was kind of just the pattern that we’ve been in,” Moenoa said. “Being in and out of focus and inconsistent with our serve and pass, and we came back and the message was, ‘Hey, we have the opportunity to do something different.’”

The rest of the match was indeed different for Poly as they stepped up defensively and limited their mistakes. Sophomore middle Layla Moore had a nice all-around match with 11 kills, three aces and a pair of blocks.

“I feel like we played really well today,” said Moore. “We’re getting more of a team chemistry now because in round one of league play we were getting used to it, our setters, and just all-around because it’s kind of a new team. So our team chemistry is getting better in my opinion.”

Imajaleah Goggins had nine kills and a pair of blocks for Poly, mostly in the final two sets. Halie McGinest added six kills, two aces and a block. The Jackrabbits racked up 10 aces as a team, led by three each from Moore and Jayla Burson.

“I’ve known since the first match we played that (building chemistry) was going to be our battle, so I’m super proud of them for that,” Moenoa said. “It’s really hard when you have so much pressure to win, and we’ve been losing so much, to come back every day and find something that’s motivating. But they’ve definitely been doing that, and there have been little baby steps along the way showing that progress, but today’s nice because they get to see clear results. 

“I think it’ll continue to get better if our chemistry continues to get better.”

VIDEO: Poly, Millikan, Wilson Volleyball at Steve Lewis Volleyfest
Mike Guardabascio
An LBC native, Mike Guardabascio has been covering Long Beach sports professionally for 13 years, with his work published in dozens of Southern California magazines and newspapers. He's won numerous awards for his writing as well as the CIF Southern Section’s Champion For Character Award, and is the author of three books about Long Beach history.