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NEWS AND NOTES FROM PRESS ROW: Gahr locks down second place in SGVL after sweeping Lynwood


English: State Seal of the California Intersch...

English: State Seal of the California Interscholastic Federation (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By Loren Kopff

The last thing Gahr head coach Iris Murray and her girls volleyball team wanted was any part of a possible three-way tie for second place with Paramount and Warren in the San Gabriel Valley League. But the Gladiators made sure that wouldn’t happen as they easily swept visiting Lynwood 25-13, 25-21, 25-17 this past Tuesday afternoon to claim second place all alone.

Gahr improved to 10-13 overall, 5-3 in the league and automatically clinched a berth in the California Interscholastic Federation-Southern Section Division II-AA playoffs.

“I’m really excited to making CIF again and representing the San Gabriel Valley League,” Murray said. “I’m really happy that towards the end, the second round of league, my girls started playing to their potential and started being more physical and making smarter choices on the court. I like to go by the quote, ‘it’s not where you start, it’s where you finish’.”

After falling behind 5-1 in the first set, sophomore defensive specialist Naomi Belgrave served eight straight points and Gahr never looked back. Senior outside hitter Oluoma Okaro was on fire, spiking down nine kills in the set as well as adding an ace and a block. Gahr built a 20-12 lead in the second set after an ace from freshman setter Lorilei Saleapaga before the Knights crept back and trailed 23-21. But a serving error and Okaro’s 18th kill ended that rally.

Gahr was in total control in the third set, serving nine aces and getting five more kills and a block from Okaro, who accounted for 29 points in the match. Gahr avenged Lynwood’s lone league victory and will look to advance past the first round of the playoffs for the first time since 2005. Gahr would then beat Bellflower in four sets this past Wednesday in a nonleague match to wrap up the regular season.

In other volleyball action, Whitney swept Oxford Academy 25-15, 25-18, 25-20 to wrap up the regular season at 9-9 overall and 6-6 in the Academy League. The Lady Wildcats had already clinched fourth place and an automatic playoff berth. Senior middle blocker Reyna Ta’amu led Whitney with 11 kills while senior setter Allison Tran added nine kills.


Valley Christian hasn’t won an Olympic League title outright since 2009 but that’s what will be at stake tonight when the Crusaders host Maranatha in the regular season finale. Both teams are 3-0 in league action and V.C. is 4-5 overall, having won three of its last four games. The Crusaders have scored at least 35 points in their three league wins. The last time V.C. won a league crown was 2011 when it shared the honors with Whittier Christian after losing to the Heralds in the last game of the regular season. In 2009, V.C. defeated Paraclete in the last game of the regular season to win the league.

In other football action, Artesia hosts La Mirada in a battle for third place and the last automatic berth from the Suburban League. The Pioneers (6-3 overall, 3-2 in league) are looking for their first trip to the playoffs since 2008 when they won seven games in the regular season. Artesia has also lost five straight games to the Matadores.

Cerritos (2-7 overall) goes outside the Suburban League to visit Whittier Christian, Gahr (3-6 overall but 2-7 on the field, 1-3 in the San Gabriel Valley League) visits Lynwood and John Glenn (0-9 overall, 0-5 in the Suburban League) travels to Bellflower.

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