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By Loren Kopff
@LorenKopff on Twitter
The Cerritos High girls volleyball team opened up Suburban League action last Thursday doing what it has been doing a lot of-defeating and sweeping John Glenn High. The Lady Dons, by virtue of their 25-16, 25-17, 25-7 decision, knocked off the Lady Eagles for the 27th straight time and swept them for the 18th time in the last 19 meetings.
It kept the Lady Dons perfect through the first four matches of the young season while Glenn first-year head coach Tan Nguyen is still searching for more consistency from his team, which dropped to 1-5 overall with six sets won in 21 played.
“We’re working through some stuff,” said Cerritos head coach David Cuthbert. “The [league] season opener has come a week and a half earlier than it did last year. We didn’t have the greatest summer preparation, so we’re still working through some stuff. I felt we got better through the game and that’s what we’re trying to do. We’re trying to get a little better each set and we’re trying to get even better for each day.”
“In general, we just had trouble siding out,” Nguyen said. “It’s not one of the focuses we’ve been working on. We’re trying to build this thing up one piece at a time. [Cerritos] is very smart; they placed the ball well. We just have to do a better job of adjusting and kind of figuring that game out.”
Glenn junior outside hitter/middle blocker Paola Ramirez had two kills in the opening minute of the first set to give the Lady Eagles a slim 2-1 lead. It would be the last time they would enjoy a lead the rest of the match as Cerritos scored four straight points. Moments later, Cerritos sophomore outside hitter Samantha Oh served six straight points to give the Lady Dons a 14-6 lead. She would have three kills in the set and two of the five aces the team would get in the opening set.
The Lady Dons raced out to leads of 9-2 and 11-5 in the second set and never looked back. Again, serving was the story as Cerritos added eight more aces to its total, three each from junior middle blocker Jackie Kan and junior defensive specialist Kea Minami. In the third set, Cerritos finished off the hosts with strong play from Oh, who finished the match with a team-high 10 kills with six aces. Senior middle blocker Ifeoma Okoli and junior middle blocker Kelly Amalu, each added eight kills while senior outside hitter Andrea Diaz chipped in with seven kills.
“Sami Oh is just an all-around player,” Cuthbert said. “She’s still young, but she’s got a lot of experience. She does everything for us. She can pass, play defense and can be effective on the outside. I think she’s going to continue to grow and we hope that by the end of the year, she’s better than she is now.”
As for the Lady Eagles, Ramirez, senior libero Leslie Barajas and junior outside hitter Gloria De La Cruz all had four kills as the team is trying to find out which one or two players will provide the majority of points. The rest of the team combined for seven kills.
“We’re a young team and we’re still learning,” Nguyen said. “A lot of the girls are still learning the basics of the game. So, I’m not too concerned with finding a big hitter. Right now my concern is we’re not playing defense as well as we should be playing defense.”
Glenn, which travelled to Norwalk High on Sept. 15, will face Bell Gardens High, Northview High and Whittier High in pool play action of the Whittier Tournament this weekend before hosting Mayfair High on Tuesday and visiting Artesia High on Thursday. Meanwhile, Cerritos, which visited Artesia on Sept. 15, will see Central Valley Christian High, Rosary High and Trinity Classical High in pool play action of the Valley Christian/Mayfair Tournament on Saturday. The Lady Dons, who have finished in the top three in league the past three seasons and 12 out of the last 13 seasons, will host Bellflower High on Tuesday.
“I think it’s going to be similar to last year,” Cuthbert said of the league. “Mayfair was champions last year, so they’ll be the favorite, as they should be, and they’ve had some good results so far this year. But I would imagine Norwalk and ourselves and La Mirada are going to be capable of winning a game.”
In other girls volleyball action, Artesia will also participate in the Valley Christian/Mayfair Tournament with Elizabeth Learning High, Valley Christian High and West Covina High as pool play opponents. The Pioneers (1-4 overall, 0-1 in league) will also visit La Mirada High on Tuesday. Norwalk (5-4, 2-0) will also be a member in the Whittier Tournament before visiting league favorite Mayfair on Thursday. Valley Christian High improved to 4-6 overall following a 25-15, 22-25, 25-16, 25-22 victory at Downey High this past Tuesday. The Lady Crusaders went to Warren High on Sept. 15 and after co-hosting their tournament, will begin Olympic League action on Tuesday at home against Heritage Christian High.
Whitney High, which fell to St. Margaret’s High 25-11, 25-9, 25-11 this past Tuesday in the Academy League opener, will visit Oxford Academy this evening and Calvary Chapel Downey on Tuesday before hosting Cypress High on Thursday.
The featured game of the night takes place at Hanford Rants Stadium when Artesia High visits Gahr High in a battle of 3-0 teams. Both teams are offensive-minded with a combined 217 points scored between them. If Artesia comes away with the win, the Pioneers will hold onto the Silver Milk Barrel at least until their Oct. 20 meeting with Cerritos High. Artesia is coming off a 41-14 win against Rosemead High and has allowed just 10 first half points.
After snapping a 16-game losing streak with a 31-19 win against Magnolia High, John Glenn High has lost two straight games. The Eagles will host Hoover High on their homecoming night. Norwalk High blasted Bell Gardens High 41-0 last week to improve to 2-1. The Lancers will visit Dominguez High tonight. Valley Christian High suffered a 30-27 defeat to St. Margaret’s High last week to fall to 2-1. The Crusaders will face Mayfair High tonight at Ron Yary Stadium on the Bellflower High campus.
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