2010 ALL-AREA GIRLS VOLLEYBALL
Player of the Year: Tirah Le’au, Monrovia, Sr.
Coach of the Year: Steve Beerman, Pasadena Poly
Camille Coffey, Flintridge Sacred Heart, Senior
Alex Daugherty, La Salle, Senior
Taylor DeGraaf, Arcadia, Senior
Alexis Genske, Pasadena Poly, Junior
Eirene Kim, La Caada, Senior
Hannah Schraer, Mayfield, Senior
By Keith Lair, Staff Writer
PASADENA – “The Beast.”
Perhaps there is no other fitting name.
And why not? Tirah Le’au’s relatives carry a sign into Monrovia High School volleyball matches with that moniker printed on it, next to her number 5. They would chant “Tir-ah” in an endearing way and stomp their feet in appreciation of a wicked spike.
She hit the ball harder than any other player in the San Gabriel Valley in 2010. Sets came to the front row. Sets came to the back row, where she was equally as powerful. Picking up 30-40 kills a match was standard procedure. So were efforts by opposing teams to try and stop the 6-foot University of Georgia-bound outside hitter.
“We did not win the league title, but we made improvements,” Le’au said. “I’m happy with how everything went.”
Le’au can put a smashing shot just out of reach of some of the best middle blockers anywhere. She forced opponents to change game plans. It’s why she is the Star-News girls volleyball Player of the Year.
“Let her play her game and stop everyone else,” La Ca ada coach Brock Turner said after the second match of the season against the Wildcats.
The Spartans won that match in four games to clinch the Rio Hondo League title, but the players were crying. Not tears of joy, but because Le’au had almost single-handedly ended La Ca ada’s 112 consecutive-game league winning streak. Le’au had 42 kills, four blocks and a pair of aces.
“I don’t think that any team could have stopped her,” Monrovia coach Wayne Teng said. “They did not have a solution for her. They tried to stop the other players. Our other girls are a little bit inexperienced. We tried to get (Le’au) involved a little more. We needed a little bit more experience in the long run.”
Without any other club players on the Wildcats, Le’au, a four-year starter, could never leave the court.
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Ashleigh DeBarge, Arcadia, Senior
Michelle Miller, Pasadena Poly, Junior
Katie Pierce, La Caada, Sophomore
Ashley Van Ooosten, Gabrielino, Senior
Alyssa Walton, Flintridge Sacred Heart, Senior
Amanda Watkins, Gabrielino, Senior
“During club, she does not play a lot of back row,” Teng said. “We moved her around on defense.”
The Wildcats advanced to the second round of the CIF-Southern Section playoffs for the second consecutive season – rare for the program.
“We reached the second round of the playoffs, which was important for us,” Le’au said.
The Wildcats lost that match to La Reina, which had seven players 5-10 or taller. Still, Le’au was able to find a way to hit around those players.
“She was a little disappointed to not win league, and I know she wanted more,” Teng said. “But it was the best she could do. She gave it her best effort.”
Meanwhile, Pasadena Poly had to find its best effort with only two returnees and two seniors, none of whom started the previous season.
Yet, coach Steve Beerman forged a team that won its first eight matches and reached the CIF-SS Division 3AA championship match.
“Losing 10 seniors (from the ’09 season) and going in with realistic expectations, we exceeded what we would have dreamed of,” said Beerman, selected Star-News girls volleyball Coach of the Year.
He built his team around two players, All-Area selection Alexis Genske and basketball player Michelle Miller, who was the ’09 Star-News Player of the Year and CIF-SS divisional Player of the Year.
“We started with two returning, but very good players, and built the group around them,” Beerman said. “They should be very happy with what they accomplished.”
The Panthers opened the Prep League season at Mayfield and ended the Cubs’ 25-match league winning streak.
Their only problem was stopping Chadwick, but then every team had trouble slowing down the Dolphins. Poly’s lone five-set losses came against Mayfield and three times to league champion Chadwick, including a four-gamer in the CIF-SS Division 3AA finals.
The Panthers had to win a second game at Mayfield to reach the championship match, taking down the Cubs in the CIF-SS semifinals.
“The key to it was that we were playing very good volleyball,” Beerman said. “From where we started to where we finished, it was a feel-good season.”
The Panthers’ standout was junior middle blocker Genske, who played the middle, on the outside and on the back row.
The victories over Mayfield were the first for Genske. The Cubs had won three consecutive CIF-SS titles, each time with Hannah Schraer in the middle.
“It was great winning three,” senior Schraer said. “I’m so thankful for that. Four would have been greedy.”
The Cubs had to re-tool their game around the USC-bound player after losing four other starters to graduation.
“It was a rough start,” she said. “The end product was a great accomplishment.”
La Ca ada libero Eirene Kim did one better than Schraer in league titles. Kim was the only four-year returnee for the Spartans and never lost a league match.
She helped La Ca ada win one CIF-SS title and finish as the runner-up in another.
This season, she helped the Spartans to the CIF-SS quarterfinals. In addition to being the team’s defensive and emotional leader, she led the team in aces.
Arcadia outside hitter Taylor DeGraaf earned All-Area honors for the second consecutive season.
The senior has helped the Apaches to an ongoing 30-match Pacific League winning streak, winning the past two league titles. Arcadia lost only twice this season, the last time in the quarterfinals to Downey.
Senior Alex Daugherty helped La Salle to its first undefeated Del Rey League title.
The outside hitter averaged 4.1 kills per game as the Lancers reached the CIF-SS Division 2AA semifinals before losing to St. Lucy’s.
La Salle had impressive victories over Mayfield, Flintridge Sacred Heart and Monrovia.
Flintridge Sacred Heart is the only area team in the CIF-SS’s highest division, 1AA. The Tologs, behind the play of Camille Coffey, finished second in the Mission League to Harvard/Westlake and reached the second round of the playoffs.
The Fairfield-bound outside hitter led the Tologs in kills, blocks, digs and shared top team honors in aces.