Lakewood Volleyball

Girls’ Volleyball Preview: Lakewood Lancers

The562’s coverage of Lakewood Athletics is sponsored byJ.P. Crawford, Class of 2013.

This is the end of the old Moore League after Mike Wadley announced this will be his last year as Lakewood girls’ volleyball coach. In 19 years under Wadley, the Lancers have won eight league titles and a CIF State championship in 2007.

“It’s hard to be an athletic director and a coach, and I think I can serve the school and the league at a higher capacity,” Wadley said. “I want to make our athletic program better and make people want to come here… And my sense of urgency and focus is increased because I know there’s an endgame.”

The timing also works out as Wadley is 12 wins away from 500 career wins, and he’ll need all the teaching tools he’s learned over 29 years at Lakewood to help this 2023 team put some new pieces together.

College-bound seniors Jade Epps and Zaria Thornton are Lakewood’s leaders up front while senior Lala Hall moves over to setter for the first time. Epps is committed to San Jose State, Thornton is committed to Oregon State and Hall is being recruited by Fresno State and Cal State Fullerton among others.

“She can play every position on the court,” Wadley said of Hall. “She’s a year older, bigger and better. And she will end up being the best of the Hall sisters. From that goofy freeman to now the leader and one of the captains… She gets it.”

Wadley added that lately Epps has been stepping up as a team leader recently, partially due to the confidence gained over the summer when she won a gold medal team at an elite club competition.

“This is clearly Jade’s team,” Wadley said. “She’s the one telling (her teammates) to eat right. When we’re weight training she’s the one leading them. She’s the one calling out our defenses. She’s also very cerebral, she sees the game.”

Freshman Lucky Fasavalu is an exciting newcomer who Wadley said is the most well-rounded freshman he’s ever coached. Sophomore libero Bronwyn Nihipali is also new to the roster, and Winter Hill has worked her way into the starting lineup at middle blocker.

Lakewood will be consistently tested this season with a difficult schedule that includes California ranked No. 1 Mira Costa, No. 3 Mater Dei, No. 4 Huntington Beach, No. 6 Marymount, No. 11 Redondo Union, No. 13 La Canada and No. 15 Wilson. Lakewood is ranked No. 19.

“We’re young and old and not a lot of experience in-between, so in certain areas we’re rebuilding,” Wadley said. “But we’ll be typical Lakewood. We’re a very athletic defensive team with transition offense.”

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JJ Fiddler
JJ Fiddler is an award-winning sportswriter and videographer who has been covering Southern California sports for multiple newspapers and websites since 2004. After attending Long Beach State and creating the first full sports page at the Union Weekly Newspaper, he has been exclusively covering Long Beach prep sports since 2007.