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 Long Beach Poly athletics in the 2022-23 school year is sponsored by JuJu Smith-Schuster and the JuJu Foundation.
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 Wilson Athletics is sponsored by Joel Bitonio, Class of 2009.
The Long Beach Poly girls’ volleyball team has spent the entire season on the cusp. They were a few points away from pulling off big wins in the Moore League for the entire schedule, but found themselves on the wrong end of their contests with Lakewood, Wilson, and Millikan. On an emotional Senior Night Thursday against Wilson, the Jackrabbits finally got over the hump in front of a loud and rowdy crowd in the Ron Palmer Pavilion, winning in five sets 19-25, 25-12, 25-20, 12-25, 16-14.
“I’m happy for these seniors, we’ve been having a rough season, and I’m super happy for them to get a win like this,” said Poly coach Megan Moenoa. “We’ve had glimpses of it and today for them to play like that and come out with a win is great.”
The Jackrabbits have just four seniors on the roster and a bright future ahead of them, but there’s no worse feeling than unrealized potential, and that specter was looming over the Poly seniors, especially after a tough loss against Millikan earlier this week.
“It feels really good to win,” said Poly senior JoJo Fuamatu. “We needed it as a team. We just needed to come together and on Senior Night it happened. We really wanted this.”
Fuamatu had eight kills in the win; one of Poly’s other seniors, Imajaleah Goggins, had five, including the last two kills in a tight fifth set.
“It’s a big boost for us, and we all love and support each other, so it shows that when we fight for each other we can win,” said Goggins. “We kept going today and didn’t stop or let our mentality come down.”
There were plenty of moments where that could have happened, where the match felt like other Poly defeats. The Jackrabbits were tied at 17 in the first set before giving up a 5-0 run to end the set and lose. They came roaring back in the second and third sets, but Wilson won a dominant fourth set 25-12 and took a 12-10 lead in the fifth.
But Poly kept bearing down and working. Two kills from Keyara Noel tied it at 12, and then after a service error tied it at 13, Poly took a 14-13 lead on a big block from Saniya Kimbrough. Wilson tied it on Allanah Smith’s match-high 23rd kill, but Poly got two kills from Goggins to close out the match, and bring their bench storming onto the court as they were cheered on loudly by the home crowd.
“It’s been a frustrating season for them, no doubt,” said Moenoa. “We’re just trying to instill tradition and be a part of that building process. Winning helps.”
Poly was led by Noel’s 11 kills, and eight from Layla Moore and Fuamatu. Halie McGinest had six kills while also handling setting duties, and Kimbrough added six kills as well. Wilson was led by Smith’s 23 kills and 11 from Chloe Pravednikov, who slid to opposite for the match, which helped open things up for the Bruins.
“We were hoping to be playing at Lakewood next week for a chance at a share of the league title, but we still took a big step forward this year,” said Wilson coach Gerald Aquiningoc, who has led a resurgence at Wilson to see the Bruins as the top challenger for the Moore League crown for the first time in years.
The Moore League standings are more or less set at this point with Lakewood on top, Wilson in second, and Millikan and Poly behind them (the Rams beat Poly twice and own the tiebreaker there). There’s one more week of league play and then playoff brackets will be released Saturday, Oct. 15 in the morning.