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NEWS AND NOTES FROM PRESS ROW
By Loren Kopff
On one side of the court, there was the Cerritos girls volleyball team, a consistent top four team in a very competitive Suburban League. On the other side of the court was Whitney, which is just trying to compete and stay in the middle of the pack of a tough Academy League, one of the strongest leagues that houses schools with small enrollments.
With that said, host Cerritos was able to sweep the Lady Wildcats 25-16, 25-14, 25-16 this past Monday but it wasn’t a clean, crisp match from the Lady Dons, who were playing in just their second match of the season.
“We weren’t comfortable,” said Cerritos head coach David Cuthbert. “It seemed every fourth point [we got], we gave away a point and let the air out of the game and gave them a chance. They were making plays; diving all over the place. They were energized and we weren’t. We relied heavily on one or two players who really drove the win for us today. We were just too inconsistent.”
After falling behind 3-1 in the opening set, Cerritos (2-0) scored four straight points and never trailed the remainder of the set. Three of those points came from sophomore outside hitter Amber Han. Cerritos would score at least three consecutive points four more times in the set while Whitney couldn’t put together more than two points in a row until the middle of the second set.
Junior middle blocker Ifeoma Okoli had six kills in the opening set while Han had four and freshman outside hitter Samantha Oh added three. In the second set, the Lady Dons raced to a 5-1 lead and were still up 11-7. That’s when Whitney (0-2) got kills from juniors Karen Kaur and Allison Oh in between a pair of aces from senior setter Jamee Centeno. Those four points came moments after Cuthbert called a timeout where he lashed out at his team.
“I was angry,” Cuthbert recalled. “We just made a number of boneheaded non-plays. We weren’t going for balls, so it was a non-play and we made decisions to not play the ball. We have to respect the team on the other side of the court and go hard every single point, and we weren’t doing that. They needed to know that. I’m not sure it translated immediately but I think they got the message.”
With the score tied 18-18, the Lady Dons pulled away with four kills from Okoli down the stretch and one each from Han and Samantha Oh. Whitney would lead in the first few minutes of the third set but with the score 7-5 in favor of the girls from the east side of the city, a pair of double hit violations, a kill from Okoli and one from senior setter Lauren Oh enabled the Lady Dons to take a 9-7 lead and they never trailed the rest of the way.
Lauren Oh paced Whitney with 10 kills but Okoli led everyone with 20 kills, which is expected from the returning veteran. But Samantha Oh picked up 11 kills while Han and junior outside hitter Daisy Segura each added eight kills.
“Ifeoma stood out but the other three, there’s more from them,” Cuthbert said. “I thought they were a little up and down and didn’t make great choices. But passing wise, I thought they passed well. They still have room to improve on hitting wise. All three are new to this team and they’re carrying a huge portion of the number of sets they are getting.”
Cerritos, which hosted Orangewood Academy this past Wednesday, will compete in the Valley Christian/Mayfair Girls Varsity Volleyball Classic on Saturday before hosting Mayfair on Tuesday in the Suburban League opener. The Lady Dons will also host Artesia on Thursday. Whitney, which visited Paramount this past Wednesday, will travel to St. Margaret’s today in its Academy League opener. The Lady Wildcats will entertain Oxford Academy on Tuesday.
In other girls volleyball action, Artesia (3-0), which hasn’t played since Sept. 10, will also be in the Valley Christian/Mayfair Girls Varsity Volleyball Classic and will face Downey, El Modena and El Segundo in pool play action. The Pioneers will then visit Bellflower on Tuesday.
John Glenn (2-3) swept Arroyo 25-22, 25-16, 25-15 this past Tuesday and hosted Cabrillo on Sept. 17 before hosting Norwalk on Thursday in its Suburban League opener.
Valley Christian fell to 3-5 after Mayfair knocked off the Lady Crusaders 25-17, 17-25, 25-13, 25-22 this past Tuesday evening. V.C., which hosted Warren on Sept. 17, will be in the same pool with Los Altos, Pioneer and St. Mary’s Academy in its co-hosted tournament before hosting Heritage Christian on Tuesday in the Olympic League opener.
After blanking Magnolia 30-0 on Sept. 4, Artesia was shutout by Pasadena 35-0 last Friday night, the second time this season the Pioneers have been whitewashed. Artesia will host Gahr tonight in the second of three legs for bragging rights amongst the three ABC Unified School District institutions that field football teams. John Glenn scored a pair of first quarter touchdowns but was blasted by visiting Mountain View 49-14 last Friday night to remain winless through three games. The Eagles will host Beckman tonight at Goodman Stadium on the La Mirada High campus.
Norwalk dropped to 1-2 after a nail-biting 38-35 loss to Bell Gardens last Friday night at Excelsior Stadium. The Lancers will host El Toro tonight while Valley Christian hopes to improve to 4-0 as it hosts Mayfair tonight at Crusader Field. V.C. slammed Ocean View 47-0 last Friday night and has outscored its opponents 145-6 so far. This will be the second of three straight home games.
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