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WHITNEY GIRLS VOLLEYBALL LACKS ENERGY, OFFENSE IN SECOND ROUND SWEEP TO VALLEY VIEW

WHITNEY HIGH SENIOR opposite hitter Solyana Chan (#6) and senior middle blocker Ola Ogan attempt to block a shot from Caylie Barlage of Valley View High in last Saturday night’s CIF-Southern Section Division 6 girls volleyball second round match. Valley View swept the Lady Wildcats 25-17, 25-11, 25-12, ending Whitney’s season at 18-8. Photo by Armando Vargas,  Contributing photographer

BY LOREN KOPFF • @LORENKOPFF ON TWITTER

The best season in two decades for the Whitney High girls volleyball team ended with disappointing sweep to Valley View High last Saturday night in a CIF-Southern Section Division 6 second round match. The Lady Wildcats couldn’t gain enough energy to surprise the Moreno Valley-based school, which eased to a 25-17, 25-11, 25-12 victory.

Whitney, ranked 10th in the division, concludes the season at 18-8. It’s the most victories any Whitney team has had since 1999 when that team finished 18-5 and advanced to the semifinals. In fact, Whitney had not reached the second round since 2001. This season also marked the sixth time since 1998 that the program had won as many as 14 matches in a season.

“There’s no words,” said Whitney first-year head coach Alonso Ledezma. “Honestly, I really thought my team was going to be really focused, especially after accomplishing getting here [for the first time] since 2001. Yes, they made CIF in 2012, 2013, last year and the year before that. They couldn’t [get past the first round]; we got it done this year. And I thought we could have gotten to the quarterfinals. Unfortunately, it didn’t go our way. The better team just outplayed us.”

The Lady Wildcats, who never led in the first set, tried to stay close to the seventh ranked team in the division, rallying for three straight points to trail 7-6 early on, then scoring another three consecutive points to trail 17-14. But the second place finishers from the 605 League found a hard time getting much production from someone other than senior outside hitter Skye Garcia.

Garcia had five kills in the first set while three other players combined for six kills. 

It would get from bad to worse in the second set when Valley View scored seven straight points to put the set away early with a 15-3 lead. In fact, the Lady Wildcats would collect five kills of the 11 points, all from Garcia, who has been a varsity member for three seasons and was Whitney’s biggest offensive threat this past season.

“It was just terrible,” Ledezma said. “We didn’t play with energy and we started off doing [things] the wrong way. It’s just unfortunate that we had to end that second set that way.”

“When we were in the Academy League, it was more of a challenge,” Garcia said. “We would win a couple of games, then we would lose every other game because there were a lot of private schools. When we first made the switch to the 605 League, we automatically did better because the teams are more in our level and in our area.”

Ledezma tried to shake things up a bit in the third set, having sophomore Gianna Medina, a call-up from the junior varsity team, be her team’s first server. She promptly had a kill, followed by a block and kill from Garcia as the hosts had their first lead of the night at 3-0. But with Whitney up 4-1, a kill from Cydney Bolasky was the beginning of six straight points for the Eagles and that was the end of any momentum Whitney may have had.

“She brought us that energy with that first kill that we got, and we just couldn’t capitalize and keep it going,” Ledezma said of Medina. “I thought that would have kept our energy going when we were up 4-1 and I told my girls, ‘see how scared they were when we scored those four points and they had one point’? We just made too many mistakes and too many errors and credit to them. They didn’t panic at all.”

“I feel like we got nervous,” Garcia said. “They walked in [the gym] and everyone was like, ‘oh, they’re tall’. So, we tend to doubt ourselves. I think that’s one of the things we struggled with the whole season-our confidence.”

Garcia led all hitters with 13 kills and had a pair of blocks while junior opposite hitter Nika Fedorova had four of the team’s other nine combined kills. It was also the last high school match for Garcia, opposite hitter Solyana Chan (one kill) and middle blocker Ola Ogan (one kill, one block).

“I’m not worried about next year,” Ledezma said. “I’m just worried about talking to my girls after this match. Next year is a long way. We still have eight months to go. We just got away from our game plan and our game plan was try to mix it up with our middles and our middles just couldn’t capitalize.”

“We never had as much fire as we did this year,” Garcia said. “Going into the season, everybody really wanted to win everything and wanted to push and practice as hard as we could.”

FOOTBALL

Tonight will mark the final game of the regular season with at least two area teams having cliched a share of their respective league titles and a third team vying for second place and a postseason berth.

Artesia High (3-6 overall, 1-1 in the 605 League) @ Pioneer High (5-4, 1-1)-The winner of this game will claim second place in the league and a berth in the CIF-Southern Section playoffs. The Pioneers are coming off a 47-28 loss to John Glenn High last Friday while the Titans were 30-12 winners against Cerritos. Pioneer, who has a 77-0 loss to Pasadena High on its ledger earlier in the season, have three one-possession victories and are led by Nathan Ruano, who has passed for 1,059 yards with 12 touchdowns, and rushed for 676 yards on 92 carries with 10 more touchdowns.

Glenn (5-4, 2-0) @ Cerritos (2-7, 0-2)-The Dons are hoping to snap a seven-game skid in which it has scored 113 points while allowing at least 30 points the last five games. In the lone victories, Cerritos outscored its opponents 93-27. Junior running back William Reed had 101 yards on 10 carries and scored both touchdowns against Pioneer.

Glenn, winners of three straight games, last won a league title in 1989 and has scored 97 points in that stretch.

Village Christian High (2-7, 1-2 in the Olympic League) @ Valley Christian High (6-3, 3-0)-The Defenders, who have won three in a row, all in league play, can win the Olympic League outright with a home win over Village Christian High. Last season, Valley Christian was 3-7, its worst mark since 2012, and lost to Village Christian for the first time since 2012. Valley Christian, which had a bye last week after defeating Maranatha High 21-19 on Oct. 18, is undefeated at home in six tries against Village Christian since 2004.

In the other two games featuring area teams with no playoff implications, Gahr High will take its 3-6 overall record,1-3 in the San Gabriel Valley League, into its road meeting with Paramount High (8-1, 4-0). The Gladiators fell to Warren High 51-0 last Friday and have been outscored 250-27 in their six losses, which includes being blanked three times. 

Norwalk High, which has won three of nine games overall and is winless in two Suburban League games, is coming off a 41-0 loss to Mayfair High last Friday and will face La Mirada High (6-3, 1-1 in the Suburban League). 

CROSS COUNTRY 

The Cerritos girls cross country made it a complete sweep, and more, in the 605 League Championships at Knabe Park this past Wednesday. The Lady Dons had runners claim the top six spots with the seventh one finishing in 15th place. Junior Sophia Vasquez won the race with a time of 20:38 with junior Samantha Chang and freshmen Sydney Romero, Camille Lara and Sofia Padilla all finishing within 44 seconds after Vasquez. Junior Kyli Joe was sixth with a time of 21:25.

Whitney, which came in third place with 71 points, was led by freshman Ella Centeno (13th, 22:53) while Artesia junior Alexa Fernandez came in 11th place at 22:31. The top Glenn harrier was junior Kaitlyn Martinez, who finished in 28th place with a time of 26:28.

The Cerritos boys team picked up 55 points but was 27 points shy of Pioneer, the overall champion. Whitney sophomore Lorenzo Rodriguez was the top runner of the race with a time of 17:33 while Cerritos junior Anrei Giordano came in fourth place at 17:44, sophomore Michael Rafael in sixth (17:59) and junior Jayson Malhi in 10th (18:20).

The top Glenn runner was senior Vidal Reynoso (15th, 18:43) and the top Artesia runner was sophomore Jareth Navarro (30th, 20:27).

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