In Saturday’s CIF-Southern Section Division 3AA championship at Cypress College, Los Altos (30-8) took the first game, then fell behind 2-1, rallying for a five-game 25-16, 21-25 18-25, 25-23 and 15-10 victory over the No. 2 Bearcats (18-7) to claim their first girls volleyball championship after coming up short in title games in 1975 and 1977.
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“Bonita’s such a good team, they taught us so much about ourselves and what we needed to do to win this thing. We had to work on things they hadn’t seen before like our jump serve. But more importantly it forced us to concentrate and work harder. That’s all our girls thought about, Bonita this, and Bonita that. Those girls played their hearts out, just like they have this whole playoff run. It started building up about six games ago and hasn’t stopped since.” — Los Altos coach Jaime Ornelas
Los Altos junior Jazmen Russell had 19 kills, and senior Meagan Macias had 18, and both came up big in the final game, hitting winner after winner as the Conquerors raced to a 10-4 lead and never looked back. Senior setter Erica Chavez also had a big part in it, coming up with 35 assists. Amanda Brown had 13 kills, and Susanna Beliakoff had five blocks.
“She (Russell) plays with her heart, and so does Meagan,” Ornelas said. “When push comes to shove, you have to go with your confident players. We had contributions from everyone, especially our setters. But those two (Russell and Macias) drove us home in the fifth game.”
“It was our mental focus. We have been through so much with Bonita that we just had to stay focused and prove to ourselves that we wanted it more than they did. You get into that last game, you’re throwing everything you have into every shot. I could see in all of us, we were making plays, hustling, doing whatever we had to do to pull this off.” — Los Altos Jazmen Russell
“This is what we wanted ever since our last loss to them. Everything they did to us before we worked on harder and harder to get better at.” Los Altos setter Erica Chavez
Bonita’s UCLA-bound senior Allie LaPierre finished with a game-high 21 kills and helped rally the Bearcats from eight-points down in the third game to win 25-18 and take a 2-1 lead. But the Conquerors squeezed out a 25-23 win in the fourth and that momentum carried them into the fifth and deciding game.
“It was mentally tough for us today, but they got us on serve-receive. Even though we talked about trying to prepare ourselves not to come in overconfident, their serving got to us.” — Bonita coach Adriana Contreas.
“We talked about being overconfident because we beat them twice, but give them credit, they’re a great team, it’s always tough when we play them. We made a lot of errors and we weren’t all on the same page connecting as a team. Some of us had moments, and some had great moments, but we couldn’t sustain it for a whole match.
“All we can do is hope to see them again, and hopefully we will have learned a lesson. We have to realize a championship doesn’t just come to you, you have to earn it. We were so use to getting our way this year, but they’re not going to give you a championship. You have to fight for it every point you’re out there.” — Bonita’s Allie LaPierre.