Screenshot 2023-08-30 at 4.50.55 PM
Long Beach Poly Volleyball

Girls’ Volleyball Preview: Long Beach Poly Jackrabbits

The562’s coverage of Long Beach Poly is sponsored by Bryson Financial.     

It’s a new day at Long Beach Poly under first-year coach Gerald Aquiningoc, who made waves in the city when he left Wilson for Poly. The Jackrabbits last year went 11-17 and finished in fourth place in the Moore League, both their lowest marks in quite some time.

Aquiningoc has come in with a lot of energy and excitement as he tries to rebuild a Poly program that was a perennial league and CIF-SS title contender not long ago.

“I have high expectations but I’m happy and I couldn’t be happier about where we’re at right now as a team,” said Aquiningoc. “We’re working on consistency and refining the system–the amount of adaptability and coachability they’ve had from me being a very different voice is great. They’re so athletic and they’re also so coachable–I’m very excited about the season.”

The Jackrabbits will see different looks this year with anticipated starting setter Kalia Teofilo a sit-out-period transfer who will have to wait a few more weeks to take the floor. In the meantime Hannah Ballungay and Josephine Gore are getting reps depending on if Poly is employing a 5-1 or 6-2 system. 

The team’s starting outside hitter will be Cedra Talaga, one of the top freshman players in Southern California. Saniya Kimbrough and Emma Holder bring extra firepower outside or on the right side, with Aquiningoc a big fan of Kimbrough’s potential.

In the middle are Kristen Dear and Layla Moore, who Aquiningoc feels are the best middle tandem in the Moore League. At libero is senior Taylor Mercado, with her younger sister Sydney Mercado in the mix in the back row as well. Cynthia Hinojosa is another returner who’s contributed; the Jackrabbits are currently without the services of returning first-team All-League standout Halie McGinest.

Aquiningoc said one of his top priorities has been rebuilding and strengthening the program’s culture–step one was Poly’s first-ever alumni match, which saw two dozen former players come back and play, as well as host a Q&A with the team after.

“We want it to be a privilege to be here, to be awesome to be a part of this program, the mystique of the school and the reputation of this program, we’re trying to bring that back,” he said. “The girls helped organize the alumni event, and seeing them open up to the alumni, hearing their stories of what it was like being a Jackrabbit. That was great–that was what we’re looking for.”

The562 Network Inc

No Description

Subscribe to the562 on GiveButter to make a recurring donation and keep Long Beach sports coverage free!
Mike Guardabascio
An LBC native, Mike Guardabascio has been covering Long Beach sports professionally for 13 years, with his work published in dozens of Southern California magazines and newspapers. He's won numerous awards for his writing as well as the CIF Southern Section’s Champion For Character Award, and is the author of three books about Long Beach history.