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NEWS AND NOTES FROM PRESS ROW: Gahr spikers get complete team effort in sweep over Norwalk

By Loren Kopff • @LorenKopff on Twitter

When the Gahr High girls volleyball team took the court against visiting Norwalk High this past Tuesday, the Lady Gladiators suited 10 of their 11 players. By the time the first set had ended, six of them had recorded at least a kill and one more had an ace. 

About an hour later, eight players had contributed with a kill with another an ace as Gahr swept the Lady Lancers 25-19, 25-14, 25-18, improving its mark to 3-2. Norwalk, playing its fourth match in the past seven days. Dropped to 4-10.

“For me, it tells us that we have really great movement in the back row,” said Gahr first-year head coach Gerryn Moran. “Our defense is moving around in the block, around the block, in the holes and that they are able to get their shoulders down, push the ball to the target giving our setter all the options she needs as far as who to set, when to set them and how to get those kills.”

Gahr built a 12-4 lead in the first set on the strength of eight kills from five players before the Lady Lancers crept back to trail 12-10 following consecutive double hit violations on Gahr. Norwalk was unable to score more than two straight points the remainder of the set and couldn’t get much momentum in the second set, trailing 7-2, 12-4, 17-9 and 21-12. Leading the charge for Gahr through the first two sets was senior outside hitter Hunter Thomas, who already had 14 kills. But while most of the attention may be centered on Thomas, at least by San Gabriel Valley League opponents, sophomore middle blocker Monserrat Rodriguez appears to be the newest threat that many may not know about yet. Rodriguez had a solid second set with four kills and even a stronger third set where she spiked five more kills to finish five kills behind Thomas.

“I mean, I’m really excited about her,” Moran said of Rodriguez. “She plays on the right side, she plays in the middle, she plays on the outside. She’s a threat in the back row as far as getting some height. She’s got an outstanding float serve and even an incredible down ball serve. As far with her, I feel like no matter where I put her, she’s communicating, she’s talking and she’s putting out 100 percent effort, and as a sophomore, that’s a coach’s dream.”

Norwalk’s biggest lead in the match was 3-1 in the final set. But that was quickly erased by a Thomas kill and back to back aces from senior setter Meagan Moreno. Her kill a minute later gave Gahr the lead for good. Moreno would have seven kills while Norwalk was led by junior outside hitter Alyanna Dorado (eight kills).

Gahr hosted Downey High on Sept. 12 in the league opener for both and will also entertain Bellflower High today before travelling to Dominguez High and Lynwood High on Tuesday and Thursday respectively. Norwalk visits Whittier High today and will visit Mayfair High on Thursday in the Suburban League opener.

In other girls volleyball action, Artesia High swept Pomona High this past Tuesday to improve to 5-11 as it went to Pioneer High on Sept. 12 in the 605 League opener for both teams. The Lady Pioneers will also host Cerritos High on Tuesday.

Cerritos swept Warren High this past Tuesday and visited Chadwick High the next day in preparation of today’s 605 League opener at Oxford Academy. The Lady Dons (6-4) will also host John Glenn High on Thursday. Glenn was swept by St. Paul High this past Monday and will be at Whitney High today before hosting Oxford Academy on Tuesday.

The hottest team in the area is Valley Christian High where the Lady Defenders have won five straight matches heading into their home match with California High this past Wednesday. V.C. is 8-4 and will entertain Maranatha High on Tuesday in its Olympic League opener before going to Village Christian High on Wednesday.

Whitney improved to 6-4 following a sweep against St. Pius X-St. Matthias Academy this past Tuesday. The Lady Wildcats, who opened the season on a four-match winning streak, will visit Pioneer on Tuesday.


Artesia (1-2) @ Westminster High (0-2)-Artesia has scored 27 points in its last two games, both losses, after scoring 39 points in an opening-season win against Bassett High. The Pioneers were blasted by Chino High 49-10 last Friday and thus far, four different players have scored six rushing touchdowns. The last two opponents had a combined record of 6-14 last season, but Westminster should be a much more favorable opponent as the Lions have been outscored 113-7. A win would look good for Artesia going into its bye week because the next three teams it plays coming out of its bye-El Dorado High, Segerstrom High and Western High, had a combined mark of 23-12 in 2018.

Cerritos (2-0) @ Portola High (2-1)-The Dons roughed up Bolsa Grande High 47-19 last Friday night as junior running back Moises Vargas rushed for 172 yards on 13 carries and scored twice and senior quarterback Nick Lightell passed for 217 yards and four touchdowns. Cerritos will need another performance like that to get past the Bulldogs, who doubled up Valley Christian 34-17 last Friday. Portola is led by Nova Kebeli (244 yards, 32 carries, three touchdowns), Trevor Yue (161 yards, 32 carries, two touchdowns) and Brandon Yue (296 yards on 28 completions and seven touchdowns).

North Torrance High (2-1) @ Gahr (2-0)-Gahr, which is coming off its bye, will get its toughest test thus far in a home game against the Saxons. The Gladiators defeated Bellflower High 17-7 the last time out while North Torrance knocked off El Segundo High 28-13 last Friday. 

Gahr had five sacks and recovered two fumbles against the Buccaneers. The Saxons are ranked ninth in the CIF-Southern Section Division 9 polls while Gahr is unranked. North Torrance is a one-man wrecking crew on the ground as Stephen Bradford has 388 yards on 56 carries and all three rushing touchdowns. The rest of the team has 11 yards on 10 touches.

Glenn (2-1) @ Bell Gardens High (0-3)-Glenn got back to its winning ways after defeating Long Beach Cabrillo High 28-13 last Friday. Junior quarterback Matthew Huxtable passed for 404 yards and a pair of touchdowns with senior wide receiver Francisco Ruiz the recipient of eight passes for 185 yards. Senior running back Edwin Udengwu got back on track and rushed 21 times for 151 yards and scored a pair of touchdowns.

Bell Gardens fell to Norwalk 16-14 last Friday and has scored 20 points this season. It has averaged close to 168 yards a game and are primarily a running team with a pair of 100-yard running backs in Gabriel Campos Jr. and Arthur Sanchez.

Norwalk (2-1) @ Long Beach Jordan High (2-0)-The surprising Lancers, who went winless last season and have an inexperienced team this season, have won two straight games as they cap off a stretch of three straight road games. Senior Sergio Martinez is on pace for over 1,000 rushing yards as he already has 430 yards and has found the endzone four times. 

Jordan will be tough to score on, having yielded just one touchdown against Kennedy High on Aug. 23. Jakob Smith leads the Panthers with 290 yards on the ground while quarterback Isaac Ochoa has thrown for 262 yards and five touchdowns. Defensively, Jordan has recovered eight fumbles and picked off opposing quarterbacks seven times, three by Bryant Williams