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The562’s coverage of high school volleyball in 2023 is brought to you by the MLP’s Bay Area Breakers.
Mike Wadley’s in his last year as the Lakewood girls’ volleyball coach, and the Lancers continued one of their great traditions since he took over as head coach more than a decade and a half ago. Lakewood hosted the Steve Lewis Volleyfest on Saturday, the annual event held in honor of former Lancers coach Steve Lewis.
In the nightcap of the Volleyfest, the Lakewood girls’ volleyball team got a good barometer of where they are and where they need to get as they took on Redondo Union.
With some pieces missing and some playing in different positions, the Lancers started the match slow and the nerves showed as Redondo Union took the first set 25-15.
Led by Lala Hall, Jade Epps and Nyla Hankins, the Lancers battled in the next couple sets but lost the match 25-15, 25-22, 25-19.
“This game was part of our schedule,” Lakewood coach Mike Wadley said. “We have a really tough schedule to get us ready for league and hopefully it’ll work out and get us ready for the playoffs.”
Redondo had a deep rotation and kept the Lancers off balance as they went to multiple options behind Taylor Boice, Abby Zimmerman and Victoria Henkel.
Although they were playing short-handed and a bit out of position, the Lancers battled throughout the second set that featured 12 ties, with the Seahawks taking the 25-22 win.
“We did some really good things,” Wadley said. “They’re getting better.”
After the match, Wadley spoke about what it meant to him being a part of creating the Steve Lewis Volleyfest and Saturday being the last time he’ll host it as the coach of the Lancers.
“This means a lot,” Wadley said. “Having the other coaches here they now understand who Steve was. His wife’s here and having people that were a part of his time here and were key members with Steve, this all goes a long way and I know this event is going to continue.”
Los Al def. Millikan
Millikan got the ball rolling at noon, facing off against Los Al. Coming into the game, Millikan (6-8) knew the tough task at hand in the Los Al Griffins (19-3).
“I think that they should be having fun on the court,” said Millikan Assistant Coach Monse Rodriguez about her team coming into the game. “Just making sure that they know that there’s a reason that they’re playing, and even when they are tired to have fun and play as a team. We have a really good culture so I think just emphasizing that good culture.”
After dropping the first set, the Rams put together a response to tie the game at a set-a-piece heading into the third set. Standout seniors Elle Lundal and Makenzie Ford led the way for the Rams, with the pair earning 14 kills each.
Unfortunately for the Rams, Los Al went on to take the next two sets, winning the game 25-15, 21-25, 25-20, 25-19.
“I just want to let them know that (Los Al) is a really good team and they held in there really well,” said Rodriguez of her message to the team. “Also just letting them know that they can hang with these big ballers because they are big ballers themselves.”
Long Beach Poly def. San Clemente
The Jackrabbits took the floor following the Rams loss, facing an exciting matchup against San Clemente.
After taking the first two sets, it had looked like a potential clean sweep win for San Clemente as they cruised past the beginning portion of the game. However Poly was able to miraculously keep their hot streak going, fighting back in the final three sets of the game winning in a reverse sweep.
“They always believe,” said Poly Head Coach Gerald Aquiningoc. “If we go down 2-0, we always say ‘well let’s commit to five sets’ and if we wanna do it then we can do it. They wanted to do it and they stayed committed today.”
Poly was able to keep the energy rolling despite the slow start, with Saniya Kimbrough keeping the teams’ morale high after going down two sets. The junior had a team-high 15 kills in the Jackrabbits win.
“I think it’s just staying confident with your teammates and having that trust with your team knowing they’re gonna do their job,” said Kimbrough of her team’s comeback. “Also actively communicating on what we see going on on their side and on our side.”
Poly stands alone at the top of Moore League standings, going on a red hot 10-0 run in their last ten games. Coming off some tough matchups against Millikan and Wilson, the Jackrabbits are striving to keep their streak going in their second wave of Moore League games after securing a win on Saturday.
“This has been a long week for us. We had Millikan, Wilson, and now San Clemente. This week we really wanted to focus on being good over time and focusing on how good we could be in this tough stretch of our season. Today was not the best by far that we’ve played, but I’m continuously proud of how resilient they are, reverse sweeting after being down to a really good team. I’m really proud of them,” spoke Aquiningoc.
WIlson def. South Pasadena
Following Poly’s matchup, Wilson was also able to get into the win column Saturday evening, defeating South Pasadena in a clean three-set sweep.
“I think it’s a good game to rebound off after the Poly game,” said Wilson Head Coach Christopher Ceballos. “That was an emotional high intensity game, so coming back today we were able to reestablish ourselves and get some confidence to get ready for our battle with Lakewood next week.”
Wilson, led by outside hitters Babi Gubbins and Chloe Pravednikov, outscored South Pasadena by a 21-point margain, securing a lopsided win 25-21, 25-21, 25-12.
Wilson will look ahead to Lakewood Tuesday. As for Poly, the Jackrabbits will face Compton on Tuesday as Millikan takes on Jordan later in the week on Thursday.
Eli Aquino contributed to this story