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 Poly athletics in the 2022-23 school year is sponsored by Poly alum Jayon Brown and PlayFair Sports Management.
The562’s coverage of Long Beach Poly athletics in the 2022-23 school year is sponsored by JuJu Smith-Schuster and the JuJu Foundation.
The newly renovated gym at Lakewood High swelled with anticipation when Lancers setter Fatimah Hall sent the possible match-winning ball out to Samarah DaCoud.
“I’m not trying to make it happen, I’m making it happen,” DaCoud said of her mental approach to clutch moments. “My teammate trusts me to give it to me on the last point. She’s going to give me her all, I’m going to give her my all, and we’re going to give our school our all.”
DaCoud put the ball down with authority to clinch a dramatic fourth set and earn Lakewood a 22-25, 25-18, 25-17, 28-26 win over rival Long Beach Poly. DaCoud finished with a match-high 18 kills and 15 digs and made sure to give the home crowd some love for providing a phenomenal atmosphere.
“Huge shout out to our crowd that showed up, that was incredible and amazing,” DaCoud said. “I wish we performed even better for them.”
Lakewood (18-5, 8-0) stays atop the Moore League standings with the victory. Long Beach Poly (6-13, 4-4) is now fourth, but showed huge growth especially in the fourth set.
“It was emotional but they stuck in it and continued to fight and battled back,” Poly coach Megan Moenoa said. “We’re a young team so seeing them do that feels like winning.”
Layla Moore and Imajaleah Goggins both had a team-high seven kills for the Jackrabbits.
“That’s the best they’ve played all year,” Lakewood coach Mike Wadley said of Poly. “Their middles are really good and they’re going to be a problem next year… I’m tired of getting everyone’s best, I’d like to get someone’s worst for once.”
Poly showed it was ready for a battle in the first set by taking an 8-5 lead. Lakewood turned to Jade Epps and her consecutive kills pulled Lakewood even 11-11. Epps finished with 17 kills and four aces. The two rivals went back and forth until a pair of late service aces from Taylor Mercado helped Poly come away with a 25-22 set one win.
“I think we got a little rattled in the first set because we weren’t ready for that,” Wadley said. “They just beat us. We’ve swept a lot of teams this year, but in the second set we were able to settle down a little bit more.”
Lakewood led for most of the second set while a handful of service aces padded its lead.
“That was focus and a mental adjustment to get our serves in more consistently,” DaCoud said. “The difference was our energy. We were taking care of that first ball much better than the first set.”
The third set was also controlled by the Lancers while Fatimah Hall, who finished with 48 assists, continued to spread the ball around well for a balanced attack. Lakewood’s Zaria Thornton had 14 kills on just 21 attacks. Libero Cortni Youngblood had 26 digs.
Poly responded with some fantastic defense in the fourth set that sent it into extra points. Lakewood had to fend off a pair of set points before feeding DaCoud for the winning point.
“I didn’t want to go to a fifth set,” Wadley said. “Poly had the momentum, and had they won (the fourth set) it would’ve been a big problem for us… We played decidedly average and we were still able to win. That’s the, 'Tiger Woods grind it out to find a way' type win.”
Lakewood hosts Jordan on Thursday. Poly visits Millikan on Tuesday (Oct. 4).