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 Millikan athletics in the 2022-23 school year is sponsored by Curtis Boyer.
A hot start and strong finish helped Lakewood stay undefeated in the Moore League by sweeping Millikan 25-13, 25-21, 27-25 at home on Thursday.
The Lancers (20-5, 10-0) are alone atop the Moore League, and after traveling to the elite Redondo Tournament this weekend, they will face second-place Wilson on Tuesday.
“We feel like we have the talent to win and our biggest opponent is ourselves,” Lakewood coach Mike Wadley said.
Lakewood was led by outside hitters Jade Epps (12 kills) and Samarah DaCoud (11 kills) while setter Fatimah Hall finished with 29 assists. DaCoud also had a team-high 11 digs.
The Lancers used a balanced attack in the first set to build a quick lead. The first five points of the match were kills by four different Lancers.
“In every game I want to make sure and spread the ball around so they don’t know my next move,” Hall said. “It also keeps everyone involved and makes sure everything is cohesive.”
“I like when everybody is getting involved because I feel like it switches up the plays so it’s not just focused on me or someone else,” Epps added.
Lakewood led by as many as nine points in the set and a DaCoud ace gave the Lancers a 25-13 win.
Millikan (12-6, 6-4) responded well in the second set by dialing in their passing. Elle Lundahl led the Rams with seven kills and the second set was tied 13-13 when consecutive Lakewood blocks gave the Lancers a lead it wouldn’t relinquish in a 25-21 win.
“Millikan didn’t go away,” Wadley said. “They’re very well coached. I could see those girls winning a couple games in the playoffs, especially if they can get their passing down in the middle.”
The third set was also tied 13-13 until DaCoud used her jump serve to get Lakewood on a 6-0 run. The Lancers led 20-15 but the Rams bounced back to fend off three match points.
“We started converting balls a lot better,” Millikan coach Ashleigh Atsaros said. “Our serve and receive stayed consistent throughout the three sets. We brought some energy to the court and had momentum for a while.”
That Millikan momentum was palpable in the gym and Wadley called a timeout with the score tied 25-25. Out of the timeout, Lakewood libero Cortni Youngblood went back to serve.
“I feel like the momentum was slowly shifting to them so I feel like it was important for us just to get on the service line and get a run and end the match,” said Youngblood, who finished with 10 digs.
A DaCoud kill and Millikan hitting error gave Lakewood the set 27-25 and the sweep victory.
“We always stay together and how we can get better together,” Youngblood added. “We had our little rough patch and we’re starting to feel better about that and we’re just going to keep taking steps forward.”