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NEWS AND NOTES FROM PRESS ROW – Moncada powers John Glenn to five-set win over Whitney as Eagles improve playoff chances

September 28, 2022

By Loren Kopff • @LorenKopff on Twitter

The John Glenn High girls volleyball team, trying to rebound from a poor 2021 campaign entered this past Tuesday’s match with Whitney High hoping to solidify its third place position in the 605 League and inch closer to the program’s first playoff trip since 2009. Whitney, on the other hand, was trying to build some late season momentum after a disastrous start to 2022 and a win would have made things interesting in the league standings.

The records may not have been impressive, but the teams played one of the better league matches this season as the Eagles, behind senior outside hitter Kaylani Moncada’s career-high 40 kills, outlasted the Wildcats 21-25, 25-19, 19-25, 25-13, 16-14. The win left Glenn at 7-7 overall, 3-3 in league while Whitney fell to 4-23, 1-5.

“Coaching that type of game takes some years off your life, I would say,” said Glenn head coach Daniel Reyes. “Obviously, we have a lot to improve on and we always have our moments. We have our highs and lows, a lot more lows at times. But the thing I just tell them is as long as we come out with a win, I don’t care how we do it. I’ll take any win we can get, especially after last year.”

“It was suspenseful, but the girls…we feed of energy,” said Moncada. “[We need the energy] and we always tell the girls bring the energy. Today, we brought it out and it was amazing.

“I did not know I had reached 40 kills,” she continued. “I’ve never had 40 kills. But I know the girls needed me and I wanted to be there for them.”

Moncada didn’t waste any time getting her game going as she had nine kills in the first set. With Whitney leading 14-13 early in the second rotation, it surged forward when sophomore outside hitter Rachel Moyer served five straight points. Glenn would jump out to a 7-3 lead in the second set before the Wildcats rallied to take a 15-13 advantage. But the serving from junior middle blocker Kristy Rodriguez, then freshman opposite hitter Valeria Mejia, who combined to serve seven points, three of them on aces, and three kills from Moncada, put the hosts up 22-16.

After falling behind 3-0 in the third set, the Wildcats got four straight aces from Moyer as part of a six-point scoring spree. Then trailing 11-9, a kill from junior outside hitter Itsmenia Alvarado allowed sophomore setter Malia Aquino to serve six straight points, propelling the team to the third set victory. But in the fourth, Moncada would make sure her team would not fall in four sets as she had 10 kills while Rodriguez added three more and junior middle blocker Janessa Leal got into the action with a pair of kills.

The set would go back and forth until Moncada spiked three straight points to give the Eagles a 13-8 lead. But she virtually stole the show in the fifth set as she recorded four straight kills to take the score from 4-2 to 8-2. Then clinging to a slim 13-11 lead, Moncada added her 38th kill before the 14th from Whitney senior middle blocker Samantha Candelaria, an ace from Alvarado and the 10th kill from Moyer tied the set. Moncada ended the match with consecutive kills and gave the Eagles something to build on for the remaining four regular season matches.

“Going from her junior year to coming into her senior year, she really took a step in the right direction with her conditioning,” said Reyes of Moncada. “Basically, her court awareness and seeing the court, and now being able to hit the line more so…it benefits her as a hitter because typically teams are able to home in on her [angle].”

“I was a little bit nervous,” said Moncada of the fifth set. “But I know the girls wanted it as bad as I did. So, it didn’t eat me up. I was just ready for the next kill.”

This was the second time the teams had played to a five-set match with the Eagles winning back on Sept. 9. If the two finish the regular season tied, Glenn would have the advantage based on the season sweep.

“They have some good hitters; they have really good hitters, and they pass the ball very well,” said Reyes. “They have the height too. That’s one thing that has always been our Achilles Heel. We don’t get a lot of height at John Glenn and essentially, we’re blocking with maybe one girl on the net all times and it makes it a lot easier for any offense just to get the open net as a hitter.”

“It was a tough loss; it’s always tough when it goes five games,” said Whitney first year head coach Khanh Vo. “Glenn played hard on defense. We were not as consistent as we needed to be. It’s kind of been the story of our season.”

As far as defending against Moncada, Vo, who coached the Cerritos High varsity team from 2007-2012, continued to say that his team was not as organized as where he needed the team to be.

Leal finished with eight kills, a block and an ace while Rodriguez and sophomore outside hitter Sugey Mancilla each had seven kills along with five and four aces respectively. Senior opposite hitter Joey Abugotal also served four aces.

For Whitney, senior middle blocker Eva Matentsian had a dozen kills while Moyer chipped in with 10 kills followed by seven from sophomore opposite hitter Gloria Kang and six from Alvarado. Moyer also served 10 aces.

“[Eva] did well for us early,” said Vo. “I think she had a good number of blocks early. She kind of set the tone early. I thought Glenn did a great job adjusting later and basically just outlasted us. But she did set the tone early for us at the net.”

Glenn visits second place Oxford Academy, which has a 5-1 league mark, today, before hosting league-leading Cerritos on Tuesday while the Wildcats are home to Artesia High today before vising Oxford Academy on Tuesday.

Moncada and Reyes both credit this past summer for the reason why the Eagles have the program’s most wins since 2017, saying last summer, girls would not show up until the week before school started. The first official practice last season wasn’t until the first day of school and the season began a week later.

“We essentially had a whole varsity team that had never played volleyball a day in their life other than Kaylani and I think two others,” said Reyes. “I think it’s a matter of experience. I think last year, I told them we were going to take our lumps going into the 2021-2022 season.”

“Last year was the worst; we didn’t have chemistry at all,” said Moncada. “But know, through summer and every day, we worked on chemistry, passing, hitting, serving, everything. And now, we’re here, and hopefully make it to playoffs.”


Artesia (0-4-1) @ Viewpoint High (0-5)-Something has to give in this battle of teams who have yet to score 50 points on the season. Artesia is coming off a 31-0 loss at Los Amigos High last Friday, keeping the Pioneers with four touchdowns in five games. Meanwhile, the Patriots fell to El Monte High 26-14, which was the first win for the Lions. Viewpoint has not scored more than 14 points in any game but possesses a double threat at quarterback as sophomores Connor Eagan and Preston Olofson have each completed over 20 passes and combined for over 400 yards before the El Monte game, hitting nine different players. The Patriots aren’t much of a rushing team whereas Artesia sophomore quarterback Julius Padilla can burn you with his arm and his legs.

Prediction: Artesia 28, Viewpoint 20.

Cerritos (0-5) @ Chino High (2-4)-The Dons were off last week to regroup for the second half of the season and face what figures to be the last “tough” opponent the rest of the way. Offensively, Cerritos has been riding the legs of senior quarterback Dylan Burton (44 of 74 for 382 yards), sophomore running back Kalib Moran (64 carries, 289 yards, six touchdowns) and junior running back Josh Park (20 carries, 103 yards, two touchdowns).

The Cowboys saw their two-game winning streak snapped last Thursday in a 35-14 setback to El Dorado High. In the two wins, Chino has scored 44 points, but in the four losses, it has scored 10 fewer points. Quarterback Diego Ogata has passed for 453 yards and four touchdowns but has thrown three interceptions. He also leads the team in rushing (57 carries, 401 yards, four touchdowns) and has accounted for all but two touchdowns the Cowboys have scored.

Prediction: Cerritos 27, Chino 21.

Gahr High (0-5) @ Bellflower High (5-1)-The offensive woes continue for Gahr, which had its worst loss of the season last Friday in a 42-6 decision against Crean Lutheran High. The Gladiators have tallied 35 points this season and have been held in single digits four times. It won’t get easier when they visit Ron Yary Stadium because the Buccaneers, who fell to Whittier High 25-12 last Friday, run the double-wing offense and have piled up 220 points while surrendering 64 points. Entering the Whittier contest, Bellflower had rushed for 1,700 yards with a quartet of players all rushing for over 190 yards and accounting for 23 touchdowns. Bellflower has defeated a pair of 605 League teams-John Glenn High 60-6 and Pioneer High 39-0.

Prediction: Bellflower 49, Gahr 7.

Dominguez High (3-2) @ La Mirada High (2-3)-After its bye week, the Matadores should be ready for a new challenge as Gateway League play begins with the combined record of the six teams standing at 16-13. La Mirada senior quarterback Nehuel Garcia has completed 71 passes for 698 yards and five touchdowns opposite five interceptions while senior running back C.J. Zackery has gained 382 yards on 66 carries with five touchdowns. The top wide receiver is senior Xavier Hicks (22 receptions, 271 yards, three touchdowns). A dozen players have caught at least one pass from Garcia.

Dominguez, which got past Narbonne High 16-13 last Friday for its second straight victory, is averaging 22 points a game while yielding 83 points. Grant Beck leads the Dons with over 450 yards on the ground and half a dozen touchdowns while a pair of quarterbacks have combined to throw for over 500 yards. These two teams have not faced each other in over 20 seasons and the program is coming off its first 10-win season since 2010.

Prediction: La Mirada 38, Dominguez 24.

Heritage Christian High (4-1) @ Valley Christian High (2-3)-Another team coming off its bye week to begin league action is Valley Christian, which ended a two-game skid with a win over Artesia on Sept. 16. The Defenders, now situated in the Ironwood League where the combined record of the six teams is 22-8, have a trio of quarterbacks who have combined to throw for 927 yards, nine touchdowns and nine interceptions.

These two teams are no strangers, having been in the Olympic League where the Defenders have won 15 of the past 17 meetings. But the Warriors are a much more formidable opponent with a stingy defense. Heritage Christian is coming off a 43-0 win against Chatsworth High two weeks ago and has given up an average of about 10 and a half points a game. Quarterback Dre Bolte has completed 56 passes for 709 yards and nine touchdowns. Five players have gained over 100 yards on the ground as the Warriors have rushed for 879 yards.

Prediction: Heritage Christian 35, Valley Christian 14.

Last week: 3-0

Season to date: 24-7-1