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605 LEAGUE GIRLS VOLLEYBALL – Whitney serves up second win of season as Lady Wildcats sweep John Glenn in league opener

September 15, 2021

By Loren Kopff

@LorenKopff on Twitter


This hasn’t been the season thus far that John Glenn High nor Whitney High was counting on with both entering this past Tuesday’s 605 League match with one victory each. Both teams have had their own issues with inexperience being the key word, as has been the case with most teams.

However, Whitney’s serving was just too much for the Lady Eagles to overcome and the Lady Wildcats came away with a 25-5, 25-13, 25-7 victory, improving their season mark to 2-9 overall and 1-0 in league action. Glenn dropped to 1-8, 0-2.

“I think the girls are really happy to finally get a couple of wins under their belt,” said Whitney first-year head coach Marlene Jollensten, who had been the head coach at the California Academy of Mathematics and Science before being a coach for Whitney’s lower level teams. “They’ve been working really hard. We didn’t have a gym for part of the summer. We had to borrow Artesia’s gym, and then we didn’t have our gym last week because they were voting in it. So, getting this win right after not being able to practice for a full week is really going to uplift them.”

For Glenn, it was the sixth straight loss, all by way of a sweep and of the 31 sets played, the Lady Eagles have scored under 10 points eight times. Their lone victory came on Aug. 20 at Saddleback High in five sets.

“It’s frustrating,” said Glenn head coach Daniel Reyes. “A lot of times I have to take a step back and realize…normally we get kids at least come out in the summer and I think if we had these kids come out in the summer and give them about two months or so to practice, it wouldn’t be as frustrating. But in the end, you try to deal with the hand you’re dealt with and just try to make it work.”

Reyes cites passing and serve receive as the main problems his team has had all season and it showed against the Lady Wildcats, who had leads of 3-0 and 8-1 in the first set before the hosts scored the next three points. After that, the serving of senior setter Charlene Casem vaulted the Lady Wildcats to the blowout win. After a serve into the net, Casem reeled off 12 straight points with five aces and two kills each from senior setter Isabela Esteban and junior middle blocker Eva Matentsian, who also added a solo block. In true form, which would be a trend for Whitney the entire match, senior defensive specialist Sophia Matthews would finish off Whitney with two straight aces. Of the 25 points in the set, 10 went for aces and 10 went for kills.

Matthews would pick up in the beginning of the second set where she left off when she reeled off six consecutive aces as Whitney was off and running with a 7-1 lead. The Lady Eagles got to within four points at 9-5 before another serving error allowed senior opposite hitter Ann Nguyen to put together seven straight points to put the set away. Later in the set, a kill from Whitney senior setter Parnika Sivakumar made it 20-8 and marked the first time in the match that both teams would serve into the second rotation.

Back to back aces from Glenn junior outside hitter Kaylani Moncada put the Lady Eagles in front for the first and only time in the match at 3-2. The dagger in the heart for the hosts came minutes later when Casem served seven straight points with three more aces to make it a 14-4 contest. The Lady Wildcats finished the sweep with 31 kills and 28 aces while Glenn was held to 15 kills and five aces as part of its 25 points.

“Our serving was on,” Jollensten said. “I would prefer to get most of our points off bumps and hits because we’re here to play volleyball. And when you get aces, that means you get just one touch. While I love that we got a bunch [of aces], I want to get more kills than aces. That’s the goal.”

Eight different players recorded a kill for Whitney, led by Matentsian, who had nine, and senior outside hitter Gianna Medina, who added five. The Lady Wildcats, whose only other win this season came against Norwalk High on Sept. 3 in five sets, hosted Cerritos High on Sept. 16 and will participate in the Bellflower-Valley Christian Tournament today and Saturday before resuming league action on Tuesday at Artesia High.

“I thought she was connecting today,” Jollensten said of Matentsian. “She got big pride hitting off of different setters and we just found the right mix today.”

The last time there was a season, Whitney finished in second place in the 605 League for the second straight season with a different head coach each time. Overall, the Lady Wildcats have reached the postseason three straight seasons, compiling an overall record of 35-36 during that time.

“We have small goals; improve every game, improve every day,” the new head coach said. “I think these girls love to play and I’m looking forward to being there with them and helping them progress every time we play. We’re here to learn and they really do take it to heart. We give them a goal and they try to make that goal happen.”

Glenn was paced by junior outside hitter Kaylani Moncada (five kills, two aces) and senior middle blocker Gabriela Ortega (two kills, two aces). The Lady Eagles, who have not been to the playoffs since 2009, will travel to Pioneer High today and Oxford Academy on Tuesday.

“As bad as it was, I thought today was better than what it had been in the past,” Reyes said. “On top of passing, I would say it’s just a lot of the kids retaining the information that we’re trying to teach them. A lot of the time, they make the same mistake over and over again and we say, ‘hey, don’t do this’ and then [by gameday] they do it. It’s just reminding them you have to stop doing this.”