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NEWS AND NOTES FROM PRESS ROW: Amalu, Oh, Okoli keep Cerritos spikers in sights of league-leading Mayfair

By Loren Kopff
@LorenKopff on Twitter

The second round of the Suburban League girls volleyball season began with Cerritos High a game behind Mayfair High for first place while Norwalk High was sitting in fourth place. The two faced each other this past Tuesday with a chance for both teams to make statements in their current league placings.

Any chance of Norwalk staying in the hunt for second place took a big hit as the host Lady Dons secured a 25-19, 21-25, 25-23, 25-16 victory, improving to 11-2 overall and 6-1 in the circuit. Norwalk dropped to 11-9, 3-4 and has been swept by Cerritos this season, something that looms large should the teams be tied for second at the end of the season.

The Lady Dons were trailing 8-6 in the first set until junior defensive specialist Sidney Pasion served four straight aces for an 11-8 lead. The seventh-ranked team in the California Interscholastic Federation-Southern Section Division 5 poll extended its lead to 21-14 after a kill from senior middle blocker Kelly Amalu and again at 24-17 after the second of two straight aces by freshman outside hitter Karina Gatewood.

The Lady Lancers bounced back to take their second 6-4 lead of the match, and with the score tied 12-12, senior setter Danielle Gomez served four straight points to give her team a lead it would not relinquish. In the third set, there would be nine ties and three lead changes, the last of which sealed Norwalk’s fate. The Lady Lancers were looking to go up 2-1 and had leads of 18-13 and 21-18 late. But a serve into the net gave possession to junior outside hitter Samantha Oh, where she had three straight aces following a kill from Gatewood. Then with the set tied at 23-23, kills from sophomore right side hitter Nicole Blue and Amalu gave Cerritos the momentum it needed.

It was all Cerritos in the fourth set as Pasion had three consecutive aces to make it 6-3 early. But Oh (12 kills, six aces) and senior middle blocker Muna Okoli were too dominant, the latter picking up six of her 10 kills in the fourth set. She also added a pair of aces and a block while Amalu also had 10 kills and a block. The Lady Dons hosted John Glenn High on Oct. 5 for the last of five straight home matches and will visit Mayfair on Tuesday with the league title at stake. Cerritos will then host last place Artesia High on Thursday.

Norwalk, behind 14 kills from junior outside hitter Marissa Reyna and nine more from junior outside hitter Cieara Munoz, hosted Bellflower High on Oct. 5 and will entertain La Mirada High and Glenn on Tuesday and Thursday respectively.

In other girls volleyball action, Artesia remained the only winless team in league and was home to Mayfair on Oct. 5. The Pioneers (4-12, 0-6) will host Bellflower on Tuesday. Gahr High is beginning to turn it around, having won three straight matches after a 25-20, 25-20, 20-25, 25-20 win at Paramount High this past Tuesday. The Lady Gladiators (5-8, 4-0 in the San Gabriel Valley League, welcomed in Downey High on Oct. 5 and will do the same to Dominguez High on Tuesday before going to Lynwood High on Thursday.

Glenn lost its second straight four-set match, this one to La Mirada this past Tuesday to fall to 7-9, 1-6 while Valley Christian High swept Maranatha High 25-13, 25-14, 25-19 this past Tuesday evening to improve to 16-6, 2-1 in the Olympic League. The Lady Crusaders visited Heritage Christian High on Oct. 5 and will host Whittier Christian High on Thursday to begin the second round of league play.


Artesia (3-2 overall, 1-0 in the Suburban League) @ Glenn (4-2, 1-1)-Both teams will probably treat this matchup as a playoff game because the loser will most likely have a hard time climbing back in the postseason hunt. The Pioneers had little problems against Bellflower last Friday in a 29-12 victory. A win over the resurrected Eagles will go a long way, since the next two games for the Pioneers are against La Mirada at home and Mayfair on the road. Glenn showed a lot of heart and grit in a 20-14 loss to Norwalk last Friday. Both teams have similar offenses, which means there will be a lot of senior running back Carlos Pulido for Glenn and a lot of junior quarterback Heder Gladden for Artesia.

Cerritos (1-5, 0-2) @ Mayfair (4-1, 1-0)-After scoring 20 and 25 points respectively in consecutive weeks, the Dons were blasted by La Mirada 56-7 last week. It doesn’t get easier as they visit a Mayfair team that aspires of winning the league following a win over La Mirada the previous week. Cerritos has found the end zone just six times on offense and another three times on kickoff returns from senior Christian King.

Gahr (4-1) @ Dominguez (2-3)-This will be the San Gabriel Valley League opener for both teams and the Gladiators hope they can continue their torrid scoring. Gahr has hit at least 34 points the past three games but its defense isn’t something to take lightly, allowing 14 points in the last three games. The Gladiators blasted the Dons 48-0 last season for their third win in the past 15 meetings with Dominguez.

Norwalk (5-1, 2-0) @ La Mirada (1-5, 1-1)-If the Lancers are to stay alive for a league title, it can’t overlook La Mirada’s overall record, considering they have a date with Mayfair next week. Norwalk boasts one its most balanced rushing attacks in years and up to four or five guys can easily hit triple digits in yards gained. A loss by the Matadores will end any chances of a league crown.

Maranatha (4-2) @ Valley Christian (4-2)-This is the Olympic League opener for both teams and probably the toughest competition for the Crusaders in league. V.C. is 4-3 against the Minutemen in league play, but 2-1 at home. The Crusaders had to hold on for a 35-28 victory at St. Anthony High last week, the second straight week they have scored 35 points. Maranatha las lost the past two games by a combined mark of 71-3.