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News And Notes From Press Row – Artesia Girls Volleyball Outlasts Whitney in  Five-Set Thriller, Tightens 605 League Playoff Race

October 5, 2023

By Loren Kopff • @LorenKopff on Twitter

When the Artesia High girls volleyball team hosted Whitney High this past Tuesday, it knew that a loss to the Wildcats would almost certainly cost the team a shot at second place in the 605 League. And for a brief moment, it looked as if Whitney would all but clinch second place in the circuit.

But the Pioneers made a courageous rally in the fourth set, coming back from an 11-6 deficit to win by three, force a fifth set and again, rally from a 12-9 hole to get past the visiting Wildcats in a 25-23, 14-25, 23-25, 25-22, 16-14 thrilling victory that lasted nearly two and a half hours. The win pushed the Pioneers to 9-7 overall and 5-3 in the league while the Wildcats dropped to 9-14, 5-3. Also tied for second place is Oxford Academy as the regular season comes to an end on Tuesday.

In the deciding fifth set, Whitney had a 7-3 lead before a serve into the net gave the ball to senior defensive specialist Arlene Ramos, who put down two straight aces. A kill would tie the set before Whitney regained a pair of three-point advantages. Early in the second rotation, a kill form senior outside hitter Jocelyn Villarreal tied the set at 14-14. Then junior outside hitter Rylee Asumbrado spiked a pair of kills to cap off the rally.

Serving would be the story in the first set as both teams combined for a dozen serves into the net, wide or long. The teams would also combine for 12 aces as the Pioneers were limited to eight kills in the two-point win. It was all Whitney in the second set, never trailing and pulling away after leading 15-12. Senior Meera Parikh reeled off six straight points to put the set out of reach at 22-12.

Down two sets to one and trailing 11-7 in the third set, Artesia junior opposite hitter Rebecca Gooden had four straight aces to begin an eight-point rally. Later in the set, a kill from Villarreal put the hosts in front and sophomore setter Isabella Cruz served three points, including an ace to make it 23-19.

Villarreal led everyone with 19 kills and five aces while Asumbrado added 13 kills and four aces. Gooden chipped in with five kills and seven aces as the Pioneers will end the regular season with road matches against Pioneer High on Friday and Oxford Academy on Tuesday.

Whitney was paced by junior middle blocker Chiugo Anyama (12 kills, five aces), sophomore middle blocker Olachi Anyama (11 kills) and junior outside hitter Rachel Moyher (nine kills, five aces) as the Wildcats host Oxford Academy on Friday and league champion Cerritos High on Tuesday.

In other girls volleyball action, Cerritos (17-4, 8-0) swept Pioneer this past Tuesday to win its fifth straight 605 League title and will wrap up its regular season home schedule against John Glenn High on Friday. The Eagles (4-11, 0-8) were swept by Oxford Academy this past Tuesday and will end the season at Pioneer on Tuesday.

Norwalk High visited Mayfair High this past Tuesday with the Mid-Cities League title on the line and stunned the Monsoons 25-6, 26-24, 25-17 to improve to 19-10, 6-1. Ranked second in the CIF-Southern Section Division 7 poll, the Lancers hosted third place Firebaugh High on Oct. 5 and will entertain Dominguez High on Tuesday before going to Gahr High on Wednesday and Lynwood High on Thursday.

In the Olympic League, Valley Christian High swept Maranatha High this past Tuesday, improving to 13-9 overall, 4-1 in the Olympic League. The Defenders went to league-leading Village Christian High this past Wednesday and will end the regular season hosting Whittier Christian High on Monday before going to Heritage Christian High on Wednesday.


Artesia (4-2) @ Garey High (1-5)-This game was played on Oct. 5. Artesia was blanked by Viewpoint High 12-0 last Friday to see its brief two-game winning streak stopped. The Pioneers are still an explosive team as junior quarterback Charlie Lopez has rushed for 1,060 yards on 79 carries and scored 13 times while passing for 198 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Sophomore running back Josue Flores has gained 606 yards on 91 carries with seven touchdowns while on defense, senior cornerback Pablo Cruz has four interceptions and senior safety Joshua Campbell has three interceptions.

On paper, this should be an easy contest for the Pioneers as the Vikings have scored two more points than Artesia has allowed. Garey defeated Ocean View High 26-7 last Friday, a team that the Pioneers beat by three points on Sept. 8. Alex Vaca leads the ground game with 562 yards on 84 touches and three touchdowns while Miguel Pascual has gained 346 yards on 74 carries and has three sacks on defense. This game bodes well for the Pioneers heading into 605 League action on Thursday at Pioneer.

Prediction: Artesia 42, Garey 14

Cerritos (2-4) @ Gahr (3-3)-See Chino High/Cerritos game story.

Prediction: Cerritos 31, Gahr 28

Mayfair (4-2, 0-1) @ La Mirada High (2-4, 1-0)-This game will be played at Glenn as the Matadores opened Gateway League action in fine fashion, defeating Dominguez 21-14 last Friday for their second straight win. La Mirada scored all its points in the fourth quarter as senior running back Martin Aguilera scored on a 65-yard run and returned a fumble 75 yards for another score. Sophomore quarterback Santino Garcia was 12 of 26 for 137 yards and threw a 16-yard touchdown pass to junior wide receiver Max Rankin.

This contest proves to be a tough one as the Matadores have not fared too well with their old Suburban League rivals. They have lost six straight games to Mayfair, though last season, it was a 16-14 contest. In 2021 it was a 15-10 affair and in 2019, Mayfair squeaked by 14-13. Before that, La Mirada had taken seven of eight from the Monsoons from 2009-2016.

After winning four straight games, Mayfair fell to Warren High 49-14 last Friday as quarterback Jeremiah Calvin was 16 of 28 for 172 yards and a touchdown and running back Louis Johnson gained 64 yards on seven carries and the other touchdown. Calvin has passed for 1,277 yards and nine touchdowns while Johnson has 172 yards and seven touchdowns.

Prediction: Mayfair 28, La Mirada 14

Warren (4-2, 1-0) @ Norwalk (3-3, 0-1)-See Downey/Norwalk game story.

Prediction: Warren 31, Norwalk 21

Valley Christian (2-4, 1-0) @ Ontario Christian High (5-1, 1-0)-Valley Christian stunned Heritage Christian 22-21 last Friday for its second straight win. During that time, the Defenders have scored 60 points, but in the four losses, they managed 26 points. Senior quarterback Joe DeYoung was five of 10 for 101 yards and a touchdown while senior running back Dylan Sawai carried the ball nine times for 55 yards and a touchdown. He also added a fumble return for a score. 

Ontario Christian has won three of the last four meetings with V.C. including last season’s 40-18 contest. Winners of four straight games, the Knights are a scoring machine and have averaged just over 43 points a game, including the last three games of at least 50 points. The Knights slammed Big Bear High 58-0 last Saturday and quarterback Hayden Slegers has passed for 1,337 yards and 16 touchdowns while gaining 250 yards on the ground with six more touchdowns. Running back Zander Lewis has picked up 436 yards on 51 carries with four touchdowns while the top wide receiver is Marquis Bradley (685 yards, 37 receptions, eight touchdowns). He also has three interceptions on defense.

Prediction: Ontario Christian 42, Valley Christian 17

Last week’s predictions: 4-3

Season to date: 32-9