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High School Volleyball: Cardenas, De La Cruz, Ramirez power John Glenn over Whitney in five-set victory

By Loren Kopff

Although they have played each other in the past, a preview of the new 605 League was on hand this past Tuesday when the John Glenn High girls volleyball team hosted Whitney High. The two future league members, who will face each other twice instead of a non-league contest, went the distance, and beyond.

Backed by dominating performances from senior outside hitter Gloria De La Cruz, junior outside hitter Paola Ramirez and junior middle blocker Denise Cardenas, Glenn outlasted Whitney 23-25, 25-19, 25-11, 14-25, 16-14. It was the second win in three matches for first-year head coach Mariel Turner, a 2015 Millikan High graduate who is coaching at the varsity level for the first time.

“We went in pretty confident,” Turner said. “We watched their warm-ups; they looked like a pretty decent team. But sometimes we get really relaxed and sometimes we’ll fall down. But we always fight back. We have a tendency to do that.”

The former frosh/soph head coach last year at Millikan, who also assisted with the varsity team last season, saw her new team lead 12-6 in the deciding fifth set on a kill from Cardenas. But the Lady Wildcats, who were facing their second future 605 League foe in a week, rallied back to tie the set at 13-13 on an ace from junior middle blocker Taylor Genera. After both teams traded points, Ramirez spiked her match-high 19th kill, then served her second ace to end the marathon.

“I think in the fifth set, they played really well, but we started to get a little overly aggressive to wanting to get the ball and we started to crash into each other a little bit,” Turner said.

Whitney (0-2) held a lead or was tied with Glenn in the first set until an ace from senior setter Karina Gomez put the hosts in front 20-19. After a serve into the net, De La Cruz put the Lady Eagles up by one again with a kill before Whitney scored three straight points and finished off the set with two straight points.

It was a different story in the second set where Glenn (2-1) got out to a 6-2 lead thanks to three aces from Cardenas, and eventually led 14-9. But that lead quickly turned into a 19-17 Whitney advantage before junior right-side hitter Berenice Santana took over and served the final eight points (six aces, one kill).

“We missed a couple of serves but for the most part, we started getting them towards the end,” Turner said. “I called a timeout and I told them, in order for us to even score, it starts with the serve.”
It was all Glenn in the third set as it never trailed and the Lady Eagles put the set away when De La Cruz reeled off the final eight points. The law firm of Cardenas, De La Cruz and Ramirez combined for 16 points in the set. When the match was over, De La Cruz had 17 kills and four aces while Cardenas added another 13 kills and four aces. Ramirez also had two aces while the rest of the Lady Eagles combined for 14 aces and 13 kills.

“Wow, when they’re in together, it is almost an unstoppable front row,” Turner said. “All three are extremely competitive girls; they don’t like to lose and there’s no slack whatsoever. They come in strong and leave strong.”

Whitney would force the fifth set with a big surge towards the end of the fourth set. With the score tied 11-11, the Lady Wildcats scored three straight points. Then up by a 16-14 advantage, freshman outside hitter Nika Fedorova served the final eight points, five coming in the way of aces and the other three on kills from senior outside hitter Juliann Chou.

Whitney also had a balanced attack with Chou leading the way with 14 kills and served four aces while Genera and junior setter Jodie Morada each added seven kills. Genera also pitched in with a pair of blocks off Ramirez in the fifth set. Sophomore outside hitter Skye Garcia had six kills and Fedorova another four kills.

Whitney visited its third future 605 League opponent, Cerritos High, on Aug. 31 and will visit Paramount High on Wednesday while Glenn will visit Paramount today before competing in the Santa Ana Tournament on Saturday. The Lady Eagles will then host Pioneer High on Tuesday before beginning its final Suburban League season two days later at La Mirada High.

“I came with the mentality that there’s going to be some things changing compared to last season,” Turner said. “We’ve been doing it so far and tonight really shows that. We’ve been putting a lot of work in the summer-working out, running, training, long practices-and it’s all paying off.”

 

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