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CIF-SOUTHERN SECTION DIVISION 5 GIRLS VOLLEYBALL PLAYOFFS Mayfair’s Williams strikes fast and early against Valley Christian in sweep

By Loren Kopff

@LorenKopff on Twitter

LAKEWOOD-Valley Christian High was hoping the third time would be the charm for its girls volleyball team against Mayfair High. But as every opponent who has faced Mayfair this season has seen, it’s a challenge going up against Skyler Williams.

Williams had five kills and a block as part of Mayfair’s eight points of the first set, with the other two coming in the form of aces from Sarah Clausen, and the Monsoons used that momentum to sweep the Lady Crusaders 25-13, 25-16, 25-20 last Thursday night in a California Interscholastic Federation-Southern Section Division 5 second round match. V.C., the Olympic League champions, end its season at 18-11 overall.

V.C. was unable to recover from the 8-1 deficit getting as close as five points (13-8) following a kill and an ace from junior outside hitter Madison Holmes. But the Monsoons scored the next four points, and after a serving error, reeled off five consecutive points to put the set away.

“I think it kind of got us back on our heels a little bit, which is common for anybody going into a match [against a team] which they’ve already lost twice before,” said V.C. head coach Melody Nua. “Having that, it was a little tough. And then you have to give credit to their hitters. Skyler’s a big kid, a big [NCAA] D-1 player. We have a bunch of kids who don’t even want to play college volleyball.”

The two teams would trade points in the first part of the second set until Williams spiked her 12th kill and Kanana Fuimaono had an ace to give the division’s top ranked team a 10-8 lead. V.C. would not get closer than a point the rest of the way as a four-point scoring spree seconds later off the serving of Clausen was all Mayfair needed to put away the set.

The match was already taking a different direction than the previous two meetings between league champions. They faced each on Aug. 30 in a non league tilt, then saw each other again two days later in the first round of the Lakewood Tournament. Both times, the Monsoons won in five sets with the margin of victory by either team being less than five points five times.

“CIF, that’s the difference,” Nua said of the third meeting. “It’s playoffs. Everything and anything different happens all the time. Sometimes it goes your way, sometimes it doesn’t. Things happen and we didn’t have an answer tonight.”

Again, V.C. was right with Mayfair in the opening moments of the third set and was trailing 9-7 after kills from junior defensive specialist Hannah Buckley and senior middle blocker Trisha Howland. But a serve into the net allowed Joy Umeh to reel off five consecutive points. The Lady Crusaders continued to fight back and trailed 19-15, 20-17 and 24-20. But there would be no comeback against the Monsoons as Fuimaono’s fourth kill ended the match.

“The entire time we were just waiting, waiting, waiting,” Nua said. “Even at 24, [I was thinking] maybe now we go forward with a three or four-point run. We never really executed on a lot of our serving that we normally do. We got caught back on our heels on serve receive. It was just a lot of random things that happened that normally don’t happen.”

Sophomore outside hitter Aubrey Schwieger led the Lady Crusaders with nine kills while Holmes added eight kills. Opposite hitter Chloe DeVries, one of six seniors that will graduate in June, pitched in with four kills.

“I told them in the beginning it was going to be a team effort,” Nua said. “We’re not going to rely on two people in the front row to kind of get our points. We’re going to need all six servers going in the back row and executing their zones and doing what they have to do.”

Even though they’re not in the same league, one glaring difference between Mayfair and V.C., as far as next season is concerned, is the fact that the Lady Crusaders will return the bulk of their offense while Mayfair loses its 6’3” middle blocker, among other role players. On the other hand, Nua will have to find a new libero to replace Kaylee Westra, another senior.

“I think that’s another thing that comes into play,” Nua said. “Mayfair has their big kids who are seniors. So this is their last hurrah. To be able to have senior outsides and a senior middle…that’s different. It’s totally different than having some juniors go out there and whack balls, because they come back next year. They’ll be here again next year doing this all over again.

“Our libero, that’s going to be the toughest position for us to fill for sure,” Nua continued. “We’ve always had solid defense and a lot of it is tracked behind Kaylee. Kaylee is just a great leader for us and when she wasn’t talking, it was always by example, which is what made her our libero this season and why she’s so good in what she does.”