When Whittier Christian won last season’s CIF-SS Division 2A girls volleyball title with an all-junior starting lineup, it was pretty clear the Heralds would be the team to beat in 2013.
Well, they were, and no one could, at least not during the Division 2A playoffs. Whittier Christian swept a young-but-tough squad from Mayfield on Saturday by scores of 25-19, 25-19, 25-19. It was the Heralds’ second consecutive championship and their third trip to the finals in a row.
“It’s surreal,” senior setter Jennifer Washle, one of eight seniors on the team, said of winning back-to-back crowns. “It doesn’t even feel like we won. This goal that we set for ourselves in the summer just happened. It’s an amazing feeling.”
Whittier Christian improved its record to 33-6 and awaits Sunday’s Division 2 pairings release for the upcoming Southern California Regionals. The Heralds are hoping for a little better draw than they got last year, when they were seeded No. 7 out of eight teams and lost on the road in the first round to Riverside ML King.
“We would love to make a great run and enjoy it,” coach Shawn Hunter said of the SoCal playoffs.
Seniors Kylee Wolfe (15 kills, 8 digs), Deanna Blaine (11 kills) and Stephanie Stevenson (10 kills, 2 solo blocks, 3 block assists) did most of the damage, and Washle added 40 assists and five aces, including the match clincher in Set 3.
Whittier Christian played most of the season – and all of the playoffs – with a large target firmly affixed to its back. But the Heralds lost just one set in five matches and showed a remarkable capacity for remaining calm and resilient.
“It’s really hard to come back and win again,” said Wolfe, “and to accomplish that is amazing.”
And then there was one …
Whittier-area football teams took it on the chin in Friday’s second round of the CIF-SS playoffs, with four of the five teams eliminated. Losses from Santa Fe (42-0 vs. Burbank), Montebello (41-7 vs. Monrovia) and Schurr (28-14 vs. Arroyo) weren’t surprises. But the shocker of the night was top-seeded La Habra losing to Newport Harbor 49-48 in the Southwest Division. I felt the Highlanders were a lock to reach their first final since 2010. Instead, Friday’s loss was their third in a row in either the first or second round of the playoffs.
The only area team to advance was La Serna, which routed Diamond Bar 51-7 in the Southeast Division and improved to 10-2. The Lancers, division finalists the last two years, will host Burbank next week in the semifinals.
Monrovia 41, Montebello 7
Arroyo 28, Schurr 14
La Serna 51, Diamond Bar 7
Burbank 42, Santa Fe 0
Newport Harbor 49, La Habra 48
A second consecutive CIF-SS Division 2A title is within reach for Whittier Christian’s girls volleyball team, and the eight seniors on the squad are oh-so-close close to leaving a legacy of dominance at the school.
The Heralds will face Mayfield at 10 a.m. Saturday at Santiago Canyon College, seeking their second 2A title in three consecutive trips to the final. Whittier Christian, or “Dub-C” to the students, beat Chadwick in four sets last season, just a year after losing to Downey in the final in five sets.
“This our last year,” said senior libero Nicole Santos. “We want to do the best we can, and it would be great to win another championship.”
The Heralds (31-6) are the four-time defending Olympic League champions, and they claimed two consecutive Alpha League crowns before moving to the Olympic in 2010. Senior outside hitter Deanna Blaine is a four-year varsity player, and was selected Division 2A Player of the Year as a junior. Whittier Christian is 15-2 in the Southern Section playoffs since her arrival and 32-0 in league play.
“I’d like to be remembered as that volleyball player, that No. 12,” said Blaine. “So yeah, I’d like to leave (a legacy).”
Mayfield won the Prep League and is seeded No. 3 in the division. The Cubs are 24-1 overall, and 2013 marks the seventh consecutive season a Prep League team has reached a divisional final.
Softball players from La Serna and La Habra signed letters of intent this week, bringing the number of signed softballers from the area to seven this week.
La Serna center fielder Danielle Garcielita signed with North Carolina, which reached the semifinals of the ACC Tournament and qualified for the NCAA Tournament last season. Garcielita will begin her fourth varsity season this year and was selected Del Rio League MVP as a junior.
La Habra shortstop Camille Manzo signed with Sterling College on Friday. She was a second-team All-Freeway League selection as a junior. Sterling College is an NAIA school located in Sterling, Kan.
On Tuesday’s five St. Paul softball players signed their letters. They are: Koreen Orozco (Holy Family), Krystal Gutierrez (St. John’s), Lovie Lopez (Oregon State), Danielle Munoz (Tennessee State) and Bryanna Campos (Bethune-Cookman).
CIF-SS QUARTERFINAL FOOTBALL SCHEDULE
Montebello at Monrovia
Arroyo at Schurr
La Serna at Diamond Bar
Burbank vs. Santa Fe at Downey High
La Habra at Newport Harbor
A closer look:
Montebello (8-3) at Monrovia (10-1)
Oilers sophomore running back Isaac Mendibles has been held under 100 yards for two consecutive games, but his 1,700-plus yards still lead the area. Montebello’s stingy defense will be tested by top-seeded Monrovia’s offense, which is led by St. Paul transfer Kurt Scoby (1,769 yards, 29 TDs).
My pick: Monrovia’s
Arroyo (10-1) at Schurr (6-5)
Behind senior quarterback Nathan Coto (2,931 yards, 32 TDs), No. 2 Arroyo puts up a lot of points. Schurr’s defense, which has allowed 14 or fewer points to six consecutive opponents, will face its toughest test since Week 2 vs. La Serna.
My pick: Arroyo
La Serna (9-2) at Diamond Bar (7-4)
La Serna recorded four sacks and five turnovers in its first-round rout of Burbank Burroughs. Diamond Bar put up 63 last week to defeat defending division champion Downey, but points will be much tougher to come by vs. the Lancers.
My pick: La Serna
Burbank (9-2) vs. Santa Fe (7-4) at Downey High
Burbank ran for over 400 yards vs. Mayfair last week, but Oharjee Brown added 162 receiving yards and three TDs as well. Santa Fe’s Christian Lara-to-Brandon Takata pass-and-catch combination has been the best in the area this season.
My pick: Burbank
La Habra (10-1) at Newport Harbor (6-5)
Early playoff exits the past two seasons have the Highlanders on a mission this season. The defense made five interceptions last week vs. Anaheim Canyon, and Carlos Martin’s 94-yard TD run sparked the offense in the second quarter. Four of the Sailors’ victories this season came against teams that reached the postseason.
My pick: La Habra
After seven seasons in charge of the football program at Cal High, Jim Arnold has resigned as head coach.
Arnold cited several factors for his decision, including changing CIF and fund-raising rules, his duties as athletic director and the stadium renovation planned for Cal next year.
“When you have lost the passion to run a football program, it is only fair to the kids and all involved to turn it over to someone who still has (passion),” Arnold wrote in an email.
Arnold will continue as athletic director and hopes to coach Cal’s freshman team next year, “where I can actually spend most of my time coaching kids.”
Arnold took over the Cal program in 2007, and he compiled a 48-30-2 record in seven seasons with six playoff appearances, including two semifinal berths. The Condors went 23-12 in the Del Rio League under Arnold, and claimed league titles in 2007 and 2009.
Arnold said he’d be directly involved in the hiring of a new coach and hopes to have someone hired by mid-January.
Anyone interested in applying for the position can contact Arnold at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As expected, Whittier Christian drew the No. 1 seed for the upcoming CIF-SS Division 2A playoffs when the pairings were released Saturday, and two other area teams earned top-four seeds as well.
The Heralds are 27-7 overall and went unbeaten in the Olympic League. On Tuesday, they’ll open the playoffs against either Westridge or Channel Islands. Whittier Christians won the Division 2AA championship last season.
In 3AA, Del Rio League champion La Serna earned the No. 2 seed and a first-round bye. The Lancers will play the winner of a first-round game between La Mirada and Santa Monica at home on Thursday.
La Serna closed Del Rio League play last week with a convincing 25-7, 25-7, 25-12 victory over Whittier, and the Lancers enter the playoffs with plenty of momentum. La Serna had good success in tournament play during the season, and head coach Monique Gayton looks at the playoffs as another tournament.
“The girls are excited about CIF and so am I,” she said. “We’re looking forward to this last tournament of the season.”
Camino Real League champion St. Paul is seeded No. 3 in Division 3AA, and the Swordsmen earned a first-round bye. On Thursday, they’ll play either Connelly or Twentynine Palms. Last season, Connelly eliminated St. Paul in the second round.
“I don’t really care who we face,” said St. Paul coach John Van Deventer. “I have a lot of confidence in our kids. Just get us to the court.”
Cal, Pioneer and Whittier from the Del Rio League also made the 3AA playoffs and open play Tuesday. In Division 2A, La Habra will visit Elsinore on Tuesday, and Camino Real League runner-up Cantwell-Sacred Heart will visit Magnolia Tuesday in Division 4AA. In Division 3A, Almont League runner-up Schurr will the long bus ride to Templeton.
There were early signs El Rancho might have a chance against La Serna in Thursday night’s Del Rio League championship game.
On the very first play from scrimmage, senior defensive lineman Malachi Allen sacked elusive Lancer quarterback Frankie Palmer for a nine-yard loss, delighting the El Rancho sideline and fan base. On La Serna’s next drive, the Dons forced a Kevin Ramos fumble, and Allen recorded his second sack of the game on the ensuing possession, a 17-yard loss. After the first quarter, La Serna’s lead was just 6-0.
El Rancho’s offense, however, had zero success moving the ball vs. the Lancers. The Dons earned just two first downs in the first half, went three-and-out three times, were stopped on downs once and turned the ball over once.
“The coaches gave us a good defensive strategy,” said senior linebacker Luis Camacho, who had two sacks and a tackle for loss in the first half. “We knew we had to come out and give it all we’ve got in the first five minutes.”
With El Rancho’s defense beginning to fatigue, La Serna assumed control of the game in the second quarter. Ramos scored a pair of rushing TDs – 8 and 54 yards – and sophomore Anthony Garcia scored his second of the game on a 6-yard run. With good clock management at the end of the half, the Lancers added one more TD before halftime on a 6-yard strike to D’Andre Sanchez, and they took a 36-0 lead into the intermission.
With backups playing the majority of the second half, La Serna rushed for 266 yards and five TDs. Ramos finished with 98 rushing yards and Garcia – a JV call-up – had 84 yards and three TDs.
El Rancho’s only score of the game came in the final seconds of the fourth quarter, with a running clock. Backup quarterback Andrew Perea threw a 6-yard TD pass to Victor Ruelas. The Dons finished with zero rushing yards.
La Serna finished the regular season at 8-2 and claimed its second consecutive Del Rio League title. El Rancho finished at 7-3 overall and 4-1 in league, and will make its first playoff appearance since 2010. Both teams will learn their CIF-SS Southeast Division playoff fate Saturday when the pairings are released.