SEEKING REDEMPTION: The La Salle High School girls volleyball team is hoping for a happier finish when it faces St. Lucy’s today. The Regents beat the Lancers in the CIF-SS playoffs last season. Staff file photo by Keith Birmingham
By Keith Lair, SGVN
It is not just a match between teams that played for last year’s CIF-Southern Section Division 2AA volleyball championship.
When La Salle High School plays at St. Lucy’s Priory tonight, it’s a match between arguably the two best teams in the Valley. La Salle (18-1) is coming off two tournament victories, including a sweep in the Otay Ranch Invitational last weekend in southern San Diego County.
St. Lucy’s (6-5), which defeated La Salle in last year’s division title match, is coming off an impressive top 16 finish in the Durango Fall Classic in Las Vegas.
Today’s match is scheduled to start at 5:45 p,m,
“These type of matches make us all better,” St. Lucy’s coach Sean Douglas said. “Heck, even losing them makes you better.
“You learn from those losses.”
La Salle also won the Inland Empire Classic and finished third in the season-opening Gahr tournament.
“La Salle has proven they can beat everybody,” Douglas said. “They are playing great. They’re on a mission.”
St. Lucy’s was the lone team with a losing record to make the round of 16 of the Durango tournament. The Regents upset Xavier Prep of Phoenix, then the No. 19-ranked team in the nation, and South Torrance, which was No. 1 in the CIF-SS Division 2AA before losing to Horizon of Scottsdale, Ariz., which is ranked No. 15 in the nation.
“I have not seen that much talent in my life in one gym,” Douglas said. “It was unbelievable.”
La Salle-St. Lucy’s quickly has become quite a rivalry. The teams met in the 2010 CIF-SS semifinals, which St. Lucy’s won en route to the title. The teams played twice last year, with St. Lucy’s winning a nonleague game and the 2AA final in three games.
“We have a rivalry started here,” Douglas said. “After we knocked them off in the semifinals (in 2010), they immediately scheduled us. This rivalry is good for the kids and good for volleyball. Everybody looks at the beach schools, but the two of us have made a statement the last few years.
“La Salle will not give up any easy points.”
Both teams moved up a division to 1A this year. St. Lucy’s is ranked second and La Salle is fifth. Laguna Beach is No. 1.
La Canada went into the season with arguably the best frontline in the Valley.
But it has not been that way thus far. The line of seniors Katie Pierce, Micaela Anderson and Kendall Walbrecht have yet to play a game together.
Pierce has a contusion on her tibia and was given the OK on Monday to begin rehabilitation. She is not expected back until mid-October. Anderson injured her heel last week in a match against Notre Dame and Walbrecht finally returned from injury in that same match.
“If we can peak at the right time and be healthy then, when the playoffs begin, we’ll be OK,” coach Brock Turner said. “We’re suffering some right now until we get our offense back.”
Anderson will play at Rutgers next year and Walbrecht is heading for UC Davis.
Turner has turned to seven sophomores, including starting setter Leigh Sclafani. Sophomore Megan Arnold has played middle blocker and sophomore Taylor Kramer has played defense.
This may be one of those compelling weeks for Valley matches.
Mayfield plays Pasadena Poly in Prep League competition on Friday.
“I’m excited to be part of this rivalry,” Mayfield coach Jon Basilio said. “The girls are close to each other and some have played together on the same team.”
Poly also plays Chadwick, two teams that played for a CIF-SS title the last two seasons, today in Pasadena. Alverno is at Gabrielino today and Monrovia plays at Bishop Amat on Thursday.