Alta Loma volleyball team closing in on a CIF title

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It’s one more to go for the spirited Alta Loma High School volleyball team.

The Braves (32-2) turned in a convincing 3-0 win over Garden Grove on Tuesday night in one Division 4AA semifinal to earn a spot in Friday’s title game against La Reina (29-8) which defeated St. Paul 3-1.

Many will say they’re making a run because they dropped from Division 1A to 4AA, the result of moving from a competitive Baseline League to a not-competitive at all Mt. Baldy League.

This one has been a few years in the making for coach Tishanna Pope who has eight seniors on her 10-person squad. It’s a tight-knit squad and has been since the core of the team arrived as freshmen.

But this team can play. I don’t care what division they’re in. Among their wins this season was one over Riverside King, which made the semifinals in 1A and eventually lost to top seed Aliso Niguel.

They also have a win over 2A finalist South Torrance.

One of their two losses was to Village Christian, the team that will play South Torrance for a title.

Pope has done a masterful job of bringing this team along and she had a pretty big challenge ahead of her this year. Yes she had an experienced team that seemed to poised to make a run. But she also had to find a way to keep this team focused and sharp when it had no equal in the league.

It’s a lot easier to get fired up and focused when you’re playing longtime rivals like Los Osos and Rancho Cucamonga. When you’re competition is the other schools in the Mt. Baldy, well, not so easy to get up to play every match.

Aeryn Owens has emerged as one of the area’s premier players. But the Braves a lot of solid players around her, all of whom have excelled in the role they’re asked to hold down.

This team has also been No. 1 all season and it’s not always easy to play with the target on your back.

They’re so close to finishing the job!

Alta Loma coach Tishana Pope talks about making it to the final

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All-Sunkist League football

Kaiser’s Joshua Johnson was the Sunkist League offensive MVP

Sunkist League all-league football
OFFENSIVE MVP: Joshua Johnson, Jr., RB, Kaiser
DEFENSIVE MVP: Matt Restrepo, Sr., DL, Kaiser
QUARTERBACK
Myles Saler, Fontana
Keshon Flemings, Summit
WIDE RECEIVER
Marcus Jones, Bloomington
Armani Ruffin, Fontana
Wayne Jackson, Summit
Deangelo Vasquez, Summit
RUNNING BACK
DeAndre Graham, Sr., Colton
Gerson Diaz, Sr., Fontana
Argustus Dixon, Jr., Grand Terrace
Joshua Johnson, Jr., Kasiser
Damian Alloway, Jr., Summit
TIGHT END
Armani Dodson, Jr., Kaiser
OFFENSIVE LINE
Nick Agudo, Sr., Colton
Raul Garcia, Sr., Fontana
Brandyn Alvarez, Jr., Grand Terrace
Eric Villalobos, Sr., Kaiser
James Hansen, Jr., Kaiser
Joseph Gonzalez, Sr., Kaiser
James Valenzuela, Sr., Summit

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Chris Salabaj to head Damien wrestling program

Chris Salabaj is the new wrestling coach at Damien High School.

He is no stranger to the school or the area, having taught computer science there in 1997 and 1998.

He played football at the University of La Verne in 1993 and 1994 and started his coaching career at Webb heading the wrestling program from 1997 to 1999.

He will be a a walk-on coach with his primary job being at Our Lady of the Assumption in Claremont which is one of the feeder schools to Damien.

“The schools draw on tradition and I think a little of that has been lost lately,” he said. “I really want to get back to embracing that and building on it.”

Salabaj has been pleased with the turnout so far with 32 athletes out for the team, even before football players reported at the conclusion of their season.

Salabaj is also a special teams coordinator and defensive line coach at La Verne.

 

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