Sports

Santos, Washle serve Whittier Christian to dominant win

WClogoby Nathan Percy
La Habra Journal

Through the majority of a tough nonleague schedule, Whittier Christian girls’ volleyball coach Shawn Hunter has wanted to see his team come out of the gate and compete immediately in matches.

On Tuesday night, the coach got his wish in a rivalry game no less, as Whittier Christian put forth a dominant effort, sweeping Valley Christian at home 25-7, 25-15, 25-9.

“We got excited to play Valley tonight, it’s always fun to play a good rival,” said Shawn Hunter, Whittier Christian head coach. “Excitement is great, but we still had to compete, they’re two totally different things, but the girls did a great job channeling both of those tonight.”

Serving and first-ball contacts were perhaps more a contributing factor for the Lady Heralds than the usual big kills as the Lady Crusaders struggled on returns, while Whittier Christian’s back line handled nearly everything thrown its way.

Kylie Cooke led the way for the Lady Heralds with nine kills. Deanna Blaine added eight kills while Jennifer Washle handed out 31 assists.

Kylee Wolfe, still nursing a nagging shoulder injury, played only the third set on the back line. She finished with eight digs in the set.

The Lady Heralds’ defense held another big middle blocker, Valley Christian’s 6-foot-2 Amanda Chamberlain, from having a big part in the match.

“I think the biggest thing is that in practice, we’re going against our own outsides,” Hunter said. “So they’re used to someone thundering the ball down at them, I think it creates an opportunity to create great blocking and defense.”

Whittier Christian (21-6-1, 3-0) took control from the outset and Nicole Santos set the tone with two early aces as the Lady Heralds won the first four points.

Then, with the Lady Heralds leading 9-4, Washle held serve as Whittier Christian went on a 10-0 run en route to a dominant first set win.

The Lady Heralds were a perfect 7-for-7 on sideouts in the set.

The Lady Crusaders (17-6-1, 2-2) found their legs a bit in the second set, but Blaine was there to take charge for Whittier Christian.

The senior outside hitter helped the Lady Heralds to their first four points of the set, while Valley Christian stayed with them thanks to a couple serving errors.

However, with Santos serving again, Whittier Christian gained some separation with a 6-0 run. Valley Christian would respond with their own 6-1 run to pull within one point at 11-10.

“We’ve been working on serving and will continue to do so,” Hunter said. “It’s an element that helps you control the tempo, the pace, you can take your opponent out of system, there’s a lot of things you can do with good serving. They did a phenomenal job, keeping a great tempo and not trying to do too much.”

Alexyss Nelson tallied six assists in the set for the Lady Crusaders and Karly Dantuma’s three kills were key in keeping the set close early.

Washle ended the run by throwing Valley Christian off balance when she tipped the ball over the net instead of passing.

From there, the Lady Heralds spread the offense again as Washle hit five different hitters en route to another big set win.

The third set looked much like the first for Whittier Christian. Despite dropping the first two points, the Lady Heralds came back with a 12-0 run to turn a 4-2 deficit into a 16-2 lead.

About half of those points were awarded due to Valley Christian errors. Once again, Santos was serving for the Lady Heralds.

When it was Washle’s turn to serve, the Lady Heralds nearly ended the match. A 10-0 run put Whittier Christian at match point, 24-5.

In that run, Washle also added four assists to Cooke, Megan Kleber and sophomore Mandy Sides.

After a couple miscues, the Heralds put the match away on a kill by Kylie Cooke.

“I think our sideout percentages were very high, which means we passed extremely well,” Hunter said. “It was good to see us pass and run a very quick offense.”

Nelson finished with 11 assists for the Lady Crusaders and Dantuma recorded five kills. Chamberlain finished with four kills.

Santos led the defensive effort with 17 digs, Wolfe added eight and Washle finished with seven for Whittier Christian.

The Lady Heralds play Maranatha on the road, Thursday night.

Started in 1995, the La Habra Journal is an independent community news source serving the cities of La Habra and La Habra Heights.