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.
Both sides of the net had an eye toward the CIF State playoffs on Saturday evening at Lakewood High, but that didn’t prevent the teams from putting on a show. The host Lancers and visiting Palos Verdes High played out an entertaining five-set match to close out pool play in the CIF-SS Division 1 playoffs, with Lakewood emerging victorious, 25-23, 21-25, 25-10, 22-25, 15-10.
Senior Samarah DaCoud led the way for Lakewood in the win, playing some of her best volleyball of the year. She had a match-high 26 kills and 14 digs, and had big swing after big swing when the Lancers needed it. Fellow senior Jade Epps added 20 kills for Lakewood, while junior middle Zaria Thornton put down 8 on only 14 attempts. Setter Fatimah Hall had a nice night with 53 assists, 13 digs and 7 kills.
Lakewood head coach Mike Wadley knew his team was facing a size disadvantage across the net, but was happy to see his team’s athleticism prevail as they battled for a close victory.
“They’re a lot bigger than us, and they played in the best league this year. The Bay League was the best league,” said Wadley of Palos Verdes. “So we knew we had to be more athletic than them, because we’re not gonna be bigger. We’re the smallest team in D1 without a doubt. But we are going to be more athletic, we’ve been doing that all year long. So if we can keep doing that, we may have some more success.”
No one epitomizes that more than DaCoud, who came out firing early and often with eight kills in the first set. That made sure Lakewood got off to a good start, and that DaCoud would put on a better performance than she did against Mater Dei in Lakewood’s previous match.
“In this match to see us just keep fighting and fighting and fighting, that was everything that I really wanted us to do in this game,” said DaCoud, the University of New Mexico commit. “I'm really proud of all of us today … It took a minute for me to process how bad I played against Mater Dei, but I had to come back hard. I had to prove why I'm really ‘Her’. Like I really have to prove that. So I wanted to prove that to my team, to our crowd, to our school, that they can rely on me.”
The teams traded sets with Lakewood taking the odds and PV winning the evens. The Sea Kings had a great service game, particularly in set two. The visitors had 6 aces in that frame alone, helping them to a 17-7 lead early. Lakewood clawed back for a 21-20 lead in that game, but PV finished on a 5-0 run to tie the match.
The only lopsided set was the third, which Lakewood won easily, 25-10. After the score was tied, 6-6, Lakewood scored four straight and eight of the next nine points. They later added an 8-0 run to put things well out of reach. Sophomore Lala Hall served that run and had three of her eight aces during that set.
Despite a 20-17 lead in set four, the Lancers were unable to close the door. Some untimely errors as well as some kills and aces for PV’s Kendall Beshear helped the visitors sneak the fourth set, 25-22, and force a fifth.
That’s when Epps took things over with three early kills and a block, helping Lakewood charge out to an 8-4 advantage. The Lancers never looked back and Epps’ 20th kill sealed the win.
The victory gives Lakewood its first playoff win since 2019 and some positive momentum as they await the release of the CIF State brackets.