Sports

Lady Heralds clinch Olympic League crown with sweep of Valley Christian

Nicole Santos (shown serving against Heritage Christian) tallied three service aces and led the team with 10 digs as the Lady Heralds defeated Valley Christian, 3-0, to earn their sixth consecutive league title.
Nicole Santos (shown serving against Heritage Christian) tallied three service aces and led the team with 10 digs as the Lady Heralds defeated Valley Christian, 3-0, to earn their sixth consecutive league title.

by Nathan Percy
La Habra Journal

CERRITOS – In order to clinch the Olympic League championship, the Whittier Christian girls’ volleyball team was faced with the task of facing its biggest league rival, on the road.

However, a quick start and dominant first game propelled the Lady Heralds to their sixth consecutive league championship after a 3-0 sweep over Valley Christian, Wednesday night at Valley Christian.

Whittier Christian (26-7, 7-0) overcame a challenge in the second set before running away with the match 25-10, 25-21, 25-15.

“We were focused on competing to the best of our ability, we actually didn’t even talk about a league championship,” said Shawn Hunter, Whittier Christian head coach. “I think the girls knew in the back of their minds where they were at, but our goal was to come in and compete and I think we did a great job of that.”

Deanna Blaine led the Lady Heralds offense with 11 kills and Kylee Wolfe finished with 10 kills. Jennifer Washle facilitated the offensive attack as usual with 34 assists.

However, Washle’s assists didn’t come into play until the second set as Whittier Christian scored points in a variety of ways early.

The first set featured four blocked attacks for points and six service aces to go with Washle’s five assists.

Blaine and Nicole Santos frustrated Valley Christian with two aces each and Blaine recorded three kills.

“Our goal was to get to 10 points before they did and we were able to do that,” Hunter said. “Once we get a quick momentum, this team carries it very well. We wanted to move the ball around and establish our middles. We’ve been working on our blocking and we had great first ball contacts, so it was nice to see that practice come through in a game.”

After the Lady Crusaders recorded the first two points of the match, Whittier Christian put up an 11-1 run to take a commanding early lead.

Whittier Christian tacked on a 9-1 run late and cruised to a 1-0 match lead.

The Lady Heralds again jumped out in the second thanks to Washle’s distribution of the ball. Blaine, Wolfe and Kylie Cooke combined for 15 kills in the set.

However, Valley Christian (19-8, 4-4) began to gain momentum and pull back thanks to a handful of Whittier Christian hitting errors.

The Lady Crusaders reduced the deficit to two points at 21-19 before Whittier Christian regained its composure and ended the set on a pair of kills by Wolfe.

“I love that we had to compete and try to win a close game,” Hunter said. “We have to be used to this type of environment.”

With the third set tied at 5-5, Washle served the Lady Heralds to seven straight points to break the game open. The senior setter recorded three aces.

As the set continued, the outside hitting of Wolfe was too strong for the Lady Crusaders. Jeanne Reinis stepped in with a pair of kills and an ace late in the set and the Lady Heralds celebrated shortly thereafter.

Alexyss Nelson tallied 14 assists for host Valley Christian. Middle blocker Amanda Chamberlain led the Lady Crusaders with five kills.

Whittier Christian remains undefeated in Olympic League play with one final league match next Tuesday against Maranatha at home.

“I was happy with the way we competed in this environment because we’ll need this experience during playoffs,” Hunter said. “I thought it was great that the girls were able to deal with that noise and a big crowd and still compete well.”

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