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.
There was no doubt early on that Lakewood came to play in its first CIF Southern Section Division 1 playoff game on Wednesday at Mira Costa, but the host Mustangs proved why they’re the top seed in the bracket and swept the Lancers 25-22, 25-22, 25-16.
This is the first of three pool play games for Lakewood in the top division bracket. The Lancers continue the postseason at Mater Dei on Tuesday, and then host Palos Verdes next Saturday.
“I can ’t tell you how proud I am that we’re in Division 1,” Lakewood coach Mike Wadley said. “Every other school in our division is an affluent school. We are not. Newport Harbor, Huntington Beach, Sierra Canyon, Marymount, Mater Dei, here… and we have girls who take the bus to school… We proved we belonged here tonight.”
Samarah DaCoud led Lakewood with seven kills and 14 digs. Jade Epps chipped in five kills, nine digs, two blocks and an ace. Setter Fatimah Hall finished with 22 assists and libero Cortni Youngblood had a team-high 18 digs.
Mira Costa’s Drew Wright had a game-high 12 kills and Tanon Rosenthal had 10 kills and seven digs. Setter Charlie Fuerbringer filled the stat sheet with four kills, nine digs, two blocks and an ace. Taylor Deckert finished with 13 digs.
Lakewood (28-7) used a strong block to build a 7-5 lead in the first set, but Mira Costa (34-3) used a balanced attack to go on a 9-4 run. The set was tied 17-17 when a pair of Lancer errors, a kill from Rosenthal and an ace from Fuerbringer gave the Mustangs a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
The Lancers came back from a 12-5 defect in the second set to tie it 22-22, but again a Lakewood error gave Mira Costa a chance to pull away late. Erin Inskeep’s ace and Wright’s kill put the Mustangs over the top.
Again Mira Costa jumped out to an early lead, 11-5, in the third set. Lakewood put up a good fight with DaCoud and Epps leading the attack, but Fuerbringer spread the ball around and the Mustangs cruised to a 25-16 set victory to secure the sweep. Five different Mira Costa players had five or more kills.
“When it doesn’t feel good we have to understand that we’ve done this all season and you can go to that for your confidence,” Mira Costa coach Cam Green said of fending off the Lakewood rallies. “At the end of the day (the players) don’t need it and they trust themselves and trust their volleyball will take over. We just talked about keeping our heads in the right place.”
Wadley thinks he’s more confident in his team’s ability to hang in Division 1 despite the set scores.
“It’s pride and how hard (we) work in practice,” Wadley said. “We can play with the number one team… We have to do a better job out of system setting our middle back to the pins. That’s one of the glaring weaknesses we have to work on.”