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NEWS AND NOTES FROM PRESS ROW: Cerritos goes untouchable in 605 League for second straight season

By Loren Kopff • @LorenKopff on Twitter

The 605 League is in its second year of existence and the Cerritos High girls volleyball team doesn’t know what it’s like to lose a set in league play. The Lady Dons swept Whitney High 25-11, 25-19, 25-16 this past Tuesday, going wire to wire in league competition for the second straight season.

Cerritos, ranked third in the CIF-Southern Section’s Division 4, improved to 23-5 overall and won all 10 league matches. In fact, the program has swept all 20 of its league matches since leaving the Suburban League, allowing its league foes to get to 20 points three times. This is the program’s best record since 2009 when that team went 25-4 and advanced to the Division III-A championship match.

“The first thing that we put on our goals at the beginning of the year is to win league,” said Cerritos head coach David Cuthbert. “So, it’s really great to take care of that. I’m really proud because all three levels are 10-0 this year. Today is a victory for our varsity program, but also our lower divisions. For all of us to go 10-0 is a big deal for us.”

With the score tied 5-5 in the first set, Cerritos junior outside hitter Karina Gatewood had her first kill which led to junior defensive specialist Maile Grace Tabon serving 11 straight points. During that stretch, she had seven aces, five in a row at one point. Cerritos would have as many kills as aces in the set, 10, with senior outside hitter Nicole Blue and sophomore middle blocker Halyne Buycks each collecting three kills.

Whitney (17-7, 8-2) came out strong in the second set, leading 8-2 after senior outside hitter Skye Garcia served two straight aces after a block from senior middle blocker Ola Ogan. But the serving of Gatewood and sophomore libero Leanna Tolentino quickly made the score 13-9. The Lady Wildcats were within a point twice but couldn’t tie Cerritos the remainder of the set.

Four straight points from Cerritos senior setter Emily Pasion turned a 2-0 deficit into a 5-2 lead and Whitney would not recover. The Lady Wildcats wouldn’t score more than two straight points in the final set.

Blue led Cerritos with 11 kills followed by Gatewood (10 kills), senior middle blocker Chi Agaranna (five kills) and Buycks and senior right side hitter Cindy Byun (four kills each). Garcia paced Whitney, ranked 10thin Division 6, with 11 kills while Ogan had four kills.

“I don’t know if it was much different,” Cuthbert said of repeating as league champs. “I think the level of play…Whitney obviously has taken steps forward and were super competitive this year. We knew that was going to be the case. Anytime you’re trying to repeat on something, there’s going to be a little bit of pressure and a little bit of a target on your back.”

In other girls volleyball action, the CIF-SS will release the playoff brackets on Saturday with wild card action beginning on Tuesday and first round matches commencing on Thursday. Gahr High, unranked in Division 4, wrapped up the San Gabriel Valley League with a sweep at Warren High last Thursday. The Lady Gladiators ended the regular season with a four-set win over Paramount High this past Tuesday and will enter the playoffs at 18-4 overall and 10-0 in league. It’s the first time since 1998 Gahr has run the tables in league play.

Valley Christian High, ranked fifth in Division 4, knocked off Whittier Christian in five sets this past Tuesday to wrap up the regular season at 20-8 overall and 6-2 in the Olympic League.


Cerritos (2-5) @ Artesia High (2-5)-The 605 League opener has finally arrived, and Artesia is hoping to defend their title of last season with a younger squad. The Pioneers are coming off an impressive defensive effort in a 34-23 loss to Western High last Thursday night in which they held Western to eight points in the first half. Artesia has used three quarterbacks with senior Tyler Kemp getting the bulk of action against Western. The 23 points scored are the second most and come after two straight weeks in which the Pioneers scored seven points.

The Dons have hit hard times, falling for the fifth straight time after a 48-14 setback to Ocean View High last Friday night. Cerritos has scored 80 points in all five losses, 13 less than in the first two games combined. 

Gahr (2-5, 0-2) @ Lynwood High (2-5, 0-2)-If Gahr is to keep its faint playoff hopes alive, a win over the Knights is crucial. The Gladiators, who are on a five-game losing skid, were whitewashed by Dominguez High 28-0 last Friday night. Gahr’s offense has put together 66 points while the defense has allowed at least 28 points during its losing streak.

After getting throttled by Paramount 68-0 in its league opener, the Knights were blasted by Warren 56-6 last Friday and have scored 84 points this season. Lynwood’s defense isn’t much better, having yielded 226 points in seven games.

Pioneer High (4-3) @ Glenn High (3-4)-In the other 605 League opener, Glenn hopes last week’s bye, which came on the heels of a 20-7 win against crosstown rival Norwalk, will lift the team to an important win against the Titans. The Eagles have been paced by junior quarterback Matthew Huxtable (1,368 yards, 12 touchdowns) and senior running backs Robert Coates and Edwin Udengwu, both of whom have combined for just short of 1,000 yards. Last season, the Eagles narrowly beat the Titans 28-26 to secure second place while sending Pioneer to third place.

After winning the first two games of the season, Pioneer has alternated wins and losses, including a 33-28 setback to Bishop Montgomery High last Friday. 

Bellflower High (0-7) @ Norwalk High (3-4)-If there is a chance for Norwalk to make some noise in the four-team Suburban League, it would be tonight against the winless Buccaneers. Norwalk was in this position last season, struggling to score and win. Now, Bellflower is the one who is winless with a defense that has allowed 249 points. The Buccaneers were idle last Friday. Last time out, Bellflower was beaten by St. Margaret’s High 48-7, the third straight game in which it has allowed at least 42 points.

Maranatha High (5-2, 1-0) @ Valley Christian (5-3, 2-0)-This game might decide who wins the Olympic League as there are three teams without a loss in league. Valley Christian is coming off a 20-17 victory against Heritage Christian High last Saturday in a game that was moved to V.C. because of the fires in the San Fernando Valley. Senior quarterback Brayden Garner is closing in on 1,000 rushing yards and needs to average 143 yards in his last two regular season games to accomplish that feat. He has also scored 13 touchdowns on the ground and passed for another three. The Defenders will have next Friday off before facing the other undefeated team, Village Christian High.

The Minutemen last played on Oct. 5 and knocked off Heritage Christian 21-7. The leader of the ground game is freshman Zakkarii Black, who has rushed for 465 yards on 36 carries with five touchdowns. Five different players have completed at least six passes with four of them throwing at least one touchdown. However, all five signal callers have combined for 14 interceptions.

On defense, Zachary Hall has four of his team’s 19 sacks with three other players all with three sacks. Maranatha has also allowed 103 points with is worst game being a 41-7 loss to Pasadena High back on Aug. 30.