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By Loren Kopff
@LorenKopff on Twitter
The Quartz Hill High boys volleyball team was 30 minutes late arriving to Valley Christian High and its visit inside a jam packed gymnasium was very short-lived. Behind 13 kills from senior right side hitter Spencer Fredrick, the Crusaders did something that no other team had done against the top-ranked Rebels.
Valley Christian posted a 25-22, 25-17, 25-23 victory this past Wednesday night to earn a berth in the California Interscholastic Federation-Southern Section Division III championship finals. Quartz Hill had entered the match with a 25-2 record and winners of 16 straight matches. But the Rebels had not been swept in three sets all season long and in fact, had dropped just nine sets before the semifinal match.
“This was a welcome surprise,” said V.C. head coach Jason Kwak. “They’re a number one team, they were last year’s finalists, they’re coached very well and they played awesome. I’ve been telling the guys, in the quarterfinals and semis, we have to expect a five-setter. We’re playing two of the top teams in our division and do not expect this to be a short night. For the guys to come up pumped and ready…it was a great job.”
V.C., the fifth-ranked team which had knocked off fourth-ranked El Segundo High in five sets in the quarterfinals last Saturday night, will face Cathedral High, the division’s No. 2 team, in the finals on Saturday at 2:00 at Cerritos College.
The Crusaders (26-2) went wire to wire in the opening set and led by as many as seven points after an ace from outside hitter junior Miller Davis. The Rebels got to within two points at 17-15 and then a point at 20-19 following a block from Julian Green.
But down the stretch, Fredrick had his fourth kill and a block and senior middle blocker Giovanni Morandini and junior outside hitter Kyle Anema each added their third kills. It also was the second time this season that the Rebels had lost the opening set in a non-tournament match.
“We just told our guys, ‘don’t worry about what any other team is doing, we just need to focus on our game’,” Kwak said. “If we just limit our errors and we just focus on what we have control of, good things will happen for us. They’re a great team and we just couldn’t separate. They were right there. But even when they’re down they play composed and they brought it right back up.”
Quartz Hill led in the opening moments of the second but when Fredrick collected his fourth kill, it was the beginning of six straight points and the Crusaders never looked back in the set. Fredrick would have two aces and freshman middle blocker Camden Winter added a kill and a block in the rally as V.C. led 9-6. When the Crusaders regained possession, Anema placed two beautiful serves at the back line for two of his four aces in the match as V.C. opened up a 12-7 advantage.
The Crusaders, who have 23 sweeps this season, led 7-5 in the third set before the Rebels reeled off five consecutive points, is longest stretch in the match. They would maintain a lead all the way until it was 23-19. That’s when the Crusaders began to send the Golden League champions on their way.
A back row violation gave the Olympic League champions the serve and Anema quickly had a pair of kills. A net violation would tie the set and Fredrick blasted his final kill before Davis sent the crowd in a frenzy with an ace in the back corner.
“Spencer Fredrick has been one of my captains, one of my go-to guys,” Kwak said. “He’s one of the best players that I have coached in a very long time. He will do whatever it takes to win. He’ll make the ultimate sacrifice.”
Anema added nine kills and Davis another seven kills as V.C. will face a Cathedral team that won three straight Division IV championships from 2012-2014. This will be the third trip to the finals for the Crusaders, who won the Division III crown in 2007 with Mark Overduin as the head coach and in 2011 under the tutelage of Rob Samuelson.
Cerritos High continued its dominance in Division IV as both the boys and girls teams captured another divisional championship. For the girls, it’s the fourth straight divisional championship as they picked up 369 points, 139 more than second place Rowland High.
Out of 11 events, the girls won the 200 yard medley relay with a time of 1:50.57, good enough to qualify for the state consolation meet, and the 400 yard freestyle relay (3:38.62). Junior Maya Valdoria, who was a part of those relay teams, had a big day with a pair of second place finishes in the 100 yard butterfly (59.16) and in the 100 yard breaststroke (1:06.79). Sophomore Breanna Rigor, who was also part of those two relay teams, finished in third place in the 200 yard freestyle (1:57.17) and fourth in the 100 yard freestyle (53.57).
Sophomore Megan Ma, who had earlier placed sixth in the 50 yard freestyle (25.48), came in second in the 100 yard backstroke with a time of 1:00.45. Right behind her in third place was junior Arina Yu (1:02.52).
The boys won their third straight title and fifth overall by picking up 237.50 points and easily distancing themselves from second place Quartz Hill High (201 points). The boys also won divisional titles in 2001 and 2002.
The highest finish for the Dons in any event came in the 200 yard medley relay where the quartet of senior Eric Working, juniors Jarod Liu and Anthony Touazani and freshman Vighnesh Muley, came in second place with a time of 1:61.07. Working also came in third place in the 100 yard backstroke (54.82) while Liu took eighth place in the 100 yard breaststroke (1:04.18).
Senior Joseph Gomez qualified for the state consolation meet with a time of 47.66 in the 100 yard freestyle, good enough for third place. He had previously finished in fifth place in the 50 yard freestyle with a time of 22.16. Also having a good day was freshman Alex Rodriguez, a fourth place finisher in the 500 yard freestyle (4:53.11) and an eighth place finisher in the 200 yard freestyle (1:49.43).
Elsewhere in Division IV action, Artesia High sophomore Michelle Cisceneros finished in fourth place in the 50 yard freestyle (25.31) and in fifth in the 100 yard freestyle (55.75) while Valley Christian High senior Jeremy Yang was fourth in the 200 yard IM (2:01.45) and placed ninth in the 100 yard butterfly (55.39).
In Division II action, Whitney High sophomore Alyson Tam was fifth in the diving competition with a score of 445.20. Sophomore Adriane Tam came in 12th place with a score of 383.05.
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