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GIRLS VOLLEYBALL PLAYOFFS UNDERWAY WHILE PLAYOFF SPOTS, LEAGUE TITLES UP FOR GRABS IN FOOTBALL

BY LOREN KOPFF •  @LORENKOPFF ON TWITTER 

The CIF-Southern Section girls volleyball playoffs began on Oct. 24 with four area teams competing, three of whom are in Division 4. And of those three teams, two of them faced each other in a first round match. 

San Gabriel Valley League champion Gahr High hosted its Artesia Blvd. neighbors, Valley Christian High, the second place team from the Olympic League. This was the fourth time since 2011 these programs have faced each other on the court, the last two times coming in the postseason. Two seasons ago, V.C. earned a Division 4 first round sweep while in 2014, it knocked off the Lady Gladiators in four sets in a Division 2 AA first-round match.  

The other two times the programs met came in 2011 with Gahr winning in five sets in the second round of the Molten Classic at the beginning of the season. Later in the season, V.C. picked up a two-set sweep in a pool play match in the Marlborough Tournament. 

Gahr ended the 2019 regular season at 18-4 overall and a perfect 10-0 mark in league play. It’s the second straight season the Lady Gladiators have won 18 matches and is also the best record for Gahr since 1998 when that team went 17-5. That was also the last time Gahr did not lose a league match. 

The Lady Gladiators, who began the season at 2-2, have not lost since being swept by Cerritos High in the first round of the Bellflower-Valley Christian Tournament playoffs on Sept. 21. Since then, the team has won nine straight matches. In addition, Gahr has played in one five-set match the entire season. 

The Lady Defenders, who went 20-8 overall and 6-2 in the Olympic League. are ranked sixth in the division. Unlike Gahr, the Lady Defenders have gone the distance four times this season, all coming within the final five matches. Highlights of V.C.’s season have been going 5-1 in the Bellflower-Valley Christian Tournament and winning the final two sets in both of its five-set wins against Whittier Christian High. 

The lone two league losses came to defending Division 3 champion Village Christian High, including a five-set setback on Oct. 8 and the last time the team has lost a non-tournament, non-league match was on Aug. 27 against St. Anthony High. 

Awaiting the winner of this match will be either Los Altos High or Westridge High on Saturday with the quarterfinals being played on Wednesday. If V.C. defeats Gahr, it will host Saturday’s match. If Gahr prevails, it will be on the road. 

Elsewhere in Division 4 action, 605 League champion Cerritos High, which had a stellar 24-5 regular season including 10 sweeps in league play, was home to Santa Barbara High. Cerritos is the fourth ranked team in the division and has won 20 of its last 21 matches with the lone setback coming to V.C. in pool play action of the Bellflower-Valley Christian Tournament. 

The Lady Dons are 22-2 in sweeps but have won a five-set match once in three attempts. In fact, Cerritos has given up 20 points only once in its last 24 sets and nine times in its last 32 sets.  

Santa Barbara finished in third place in the Channel League and provided there’s not an upset, the Lady Dons will face the survivor of the La Serna High-Whittier Christian High match on Saturday. Cerritos would be home to La Serna High or travel to Whittier Christian. 

In Division 6 action, Whitney High wrapped up the regular season at 17-7 overall and 8-2 in the 605 League. The Lady Wildcats are ranked 10th in the division and hosted Bell Gardens High, the second place representative from the Almont League. Whitney posted its best regular season since 2000 when that team finished at 17-5 and advanced to the quarterfinals. This is the sixth time since 1998 that a Lady Wildcats team has reached double digits in victories. 

Whitney has played in all but two sweeps, falling to Mary Star of the Sea High in four sets on Sept. 5 and defeating Santiago High in three sets in pool play action of the Garden Grove Tournament on Oct. 12. A Whitney win would put the Lady Wildcats into Saturday’s second round match against seventh ranked Valley View High, which would be at home, or Firebaugh High, which would be a road match. 

FOOTBALL 

John Glenn High (4-4, 1-0) @ Artesia High (3-5, 1-0)-This might decide who wins the 605 League even though there is still one more game to be played next Friday. Artesia had a relatively easy 47-21 win against Cerritos last Friday in which junior running back Kyeyou Lenoir scored all three of his touchdowns in the first half. The 47 points are currently a season-high, but the Pioneers have scored at least 21 points four times. The win over Cerritos also snapped a three-game losing streak. 

Glenn is coming off a come from behind 30-26 victory against Pioneer High in which the Titans led 20-8 after the first quarter and 26-22 entering the fourth quarter. The Eagles are paced by junior quarterback Matthew Huxtable, who has 1,368 yards and 12 touchdowns prior to the Pioneer game and senior running backs Robert Coates and Edwin Udengwu, both of whom have combined for over 1,000 yards on the ground and over 600 receiving yards. 

Last season, Artesia defeated Glenn 42-28 in the first ever 605 League game as Udengwu scored four touchdowns. It was Glenn’s homecoming game, but the game was delayed due to lightning and had to be completed the following Monday. Glenn finished in second place in the league. 

Cerritos (2-6, 0-1) @ Pioneer High (4-4, 0-1)-Cerritos fell for the sixth straight time last Friday but scored over 20 points for the first time since Sept. 20 and fifth overall. Both these teams are nearly equal in points scored and points allowed. While the Dons have put 194 points on the board and yielded 280, the Titans have scored 192 points and have allowed 272 points, including at least 30 points in their last four games. Cerritos has given up at least 45 points four times. The loser of this game will be officially eliminated from playoff contention while the winner must win its final game to have a slim chance of postseason life. 

Warren High (5-3, 2-1) @ Gahr (3-5, 1-2)-Gahr snapped a five-game losing streak and kept their playoff hopes alive after knocking off Lynwood High 31-13 last Friday night. The Gladiators set a season high in points scored while allowing their fewest points since defeating Bellflower High 17-7 on Aug. 30. 

The Bears lost to Paramount High 45-20 last Friday night and have averaged over 30 points a game, something that doesn’t bode too well for Gahr. During their five-game losing streak, the Gladiators have given up at least 28 points in each of those losses. Gahr would be eliminated from playoff contention with a loss to Warren. 

Mayfair High (3-5, 0-1) @ Norwalk High (3-5, 0-1)-Norwalk is still looking for its first Suburban League win since the league was trimmed to four teams. It doesn’t get easier following a 28-13 loss to Bellflower High last Friday night. The Lancers have now yielded at least 20 points in three straight games and five out of the eight games. Through the first six games this season, the Lancers have attempted eight passes, completing three of them for 32 yards. During that same stretch, senior running back Sergio Martinez is leading the team with 757 yards on the ground and five touchdowns. Senior Daniel Onopa and junior Milton Roman Jr. also provide some helpful yardage as part of the team’s double-wing offense. 

The Monsoons fell to La Mirada High 14-13 last Friday night and have alternated wins and losses the past four games. Two of Mayfair’s losses have been by 11 points each while two others have been one possession games. The loser of this game will be eliminated from playoff contention.  

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