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605 LEAGUE GIRLS VOLLEYBALL : Cerritos comes out sluggish but has enough to post another sweep in league action

September 23, 2021

By Loren Kopff • @LorenKopff on Twitter

 

Even the volleyball queens of the 605 League are allowed to have an off day now and then. Just don’t expect Cerritos High head coach David Cuthbert to let it slide or his team to be happy about it.

The Lady Dons, who saw their eight-match winning streak snapped last Saturday afternoon in the championship match of the Bellflower-Valley Christian volleyball tournament, let Pioneer High hang around for much of the second and third sets before coming away with a 25-13, 25-21, 25-21 victory this past Tuesday, improving to 13-3 overall and 4-0 in league play. Cerritos has now won all 24 league matches since the inception of the league with wins in 72 of 73 sets played over that time.

“That’s the word; we were sluggish,” Cuthbert said. “We’re always going to celebrate a win because it moves us one step towards one of our goals. So, we’re happy with that. But we’re not happy with how we played because it feels like if we want to make some more noise this year, whether that’s in the [Pacifica] tournament [on Saturday] or looking ahead towards postseason stuff. We know we need to be better than that.”

The first set was more like Cerritos girls volleyball as junior outside hitter Jordynn Hollins served five straight points to give the hosts an early 7-1 lead. Aces from senior outside hitter Mikayla Guerrero and freshman defensive specialist Gabriella Colombo gave the Lady Dons leads of 12-5 and 14-6 respectively. The tally would be expanded to 19-9 on consecutive kills from Guerrero and after a serving error, an ace from senior libero Mia Rodriguez and kills from senior outside hitter Silvina Montiel and senior setter Leanna Tolentino put the set away at 23-11.

But the Titans, who finished in third place in the inaugural year of the league before not winning a league match the next season, stunned the home crowd when they bolted out to an 8-2 lead in the second set, fueled by four aces from Jennifer Reynoso. As quickly as Pioneer raced to the six-point lead, Cerritos quickly regained the lead at 9-8 when Rodriguez had four straight aces. Pioneer would later have leads of 16-13 and 18-15 before the first kill from junior middle blocker Isa Cilloniz started one finally rally Cerritos needed. Hollins would serve two straight aces, put down her fifth kill followed by another ace and Tolentino’s fifth kill.

The Titans would collect eight kills in each of the first two sets and on some of them, the Lady Dons defense would leave an open hole in the middle of the court for Mariela Duarte and others to tap what normally should be a routine dig but turned into a kill.

“That ball is easy to defend if we’re paying attention; if we move our feet,” Cuthbert said. “And I think those are two things that we did not do very well today. We did not maintain a level of concentration, and we were not active enough moving our feet.”

Rodriguez added two more aces in the early moments of the third set, putting the Lady Dons up 6-3. That was short-lived because Pioneer bounced back to tie the set with three straight points. But a kill from Guerrero, two more from Cilloniz and an ace from senior defensive specialist Jada Ramos gave Cerritos a 10-6 lead which is would not relinquish.

Pioneer would stay within an arm’s length, twice rallying from six-point deficits to trail by two points twice late in the set. But a serve into the net and a kill from Hollins, her ninth, made it 23-19. She would also add five aces and three digs while Guerrero led all players with 11 kills, six digs and four aces.

“We knew from the start of the year she was going to be a big player for us,” Cuthbert said of Hollins. “With an injury earlier in the year, we didn’t want to risk her. We knew she was going to be a big part of our offense and we didn’t see enough of her today. There’s a little bit more for [uniform] number 7.”

Cerritos will end the first round of league play today when it visits John Glenn High, then face Pacifica High, Fountain Valley High and Whittier High in pool play action of the Pacifica Tournament on Saturday before resuming league action on Tuesday at Oxford Academy. Up until the Pioneer match, the Lady Dons had surrendered at least 20 points in half a dozen of its 70 league sets since the 2018 season and have held opponents to under 10 points 17 times. As a side note, Cuthbert now improves to 132-62 in his eight seasons at Cerritos, the winningest girls volleyball head coach at the school in over 25 seasons, at least. Former head coach Khanh Vo compiled 93 victories from 2007-2012.

“The history speaks for itself, that we have been a dominant team in the 605 [League] and that’s something that we are aiming to continue for this year going forward as well,” Cuthbert said. “Nobody hands a trophy our for those stats. So, we don’t worry too much about it. But we are concerned with making statements and reinforcing who we are within this league, and today was a little bit of a missed opportunity for that.”

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