Sports

Lady Raiders even the score with sweep of La Habra

The Sonora girls volleyball team celebrates after completing a sweep against La Habra, Thursday night at La Habra High.
The Sonora girls volleyball team celebrates after completing a sweep against La Habra, Thursday night at La Habra High.

by Nathan Percy
La Habra Journal

Behind one of its better performances of the season, the Sonora girls’ volleyball team’s 3-0 sweep of La Habra effected the Freeway League standings in two ways.

First, and most importantly for the Lady Raiders, the win kept Sonora’s playoff hopes alive. At the same time, the loss may have killed La Habra’s chances of finishing as the Freeway League’s runner-up.

Sonora overcame a six-point deficit in the first game and held off La Habra in the second and third game to earn the sweep 26-24, 25-22, 25-19.

“I’m very proud of the girls, they found a way to win,” said Andy Johnson, Sonora head coach. “We really cleaned up our serve-receive and I think it was our best blocking match of the season, we were getting hands on attacks that we weren’t getting to before and that made it easy for our back row. It was a joy to watch.”

Kendall Rubeshaw led the Lady Raiders with 14 kills, Emily Sonny added 10 kills and Nicole Fraga finished with nine. Janiece Tolmasoff tallied 30 assists.

However, the turning point came early. Korina Pilkington’s passing helped La Habra take an early 11-4 lead.

La Habra held the lead at 17-11, but hitting errors allowed the Lady Raiders back in. Sonora tied the match at 21-21 on a tip by Lauren Magdaleno.

At 24-24, a Lady Highlanders attack sailed long and on the ensuing serve, Rubeshaw’s kill gave Sonora a come-from-behind set win.

“We just wanted the girls to remember what’s at stake and we wanted them to play for each other,” Johnson said. “If we could just chip away a little at a time, all of a sudden, it’s a tie game. Winning that game carried over and our outside hitters stepped up from there. We wanted to break the game down into little pieces and it helped, La Habra’s a good team.”

Sonny made her presence felt in the second set, mostly on the front line, getting her hand on multiple La Habra attacks. She finished the set with two blocks for points and three kills.

Sonora's Nicole Fraga launches an attack while La Habra's Marina Pilkington and Lexi Kolschefski attempt to block in Sonora's 3-0 win, Thursday night.
Sonora’s Nicole Fraga launches an attack while La Habra’s Marina Pilkington and Lexi Kolschefski attempt to block in Sonora’s 3-0 win, Thursday night.

Though La Habra stayed in the set, scoring a 5-0 run to tie at 16-16, the Lady Highlanders couldn’t grab the lead as Sonora’s offense began to click.

Rubeshaw added two late kills to ice the set for Sonora.

“Maybe I should have kept the seniors in, maybe they wanted to win, but I made changes because we started making mistakes that we couldn’t afford to be making,” said Adrianne Spear, La Habra head coach. “But we kept making those same mistakes, they never fixed their errors and that’s been our downfall before.”

Down 2-0, La Habra started fairly quickly in the third set, but Sonora not only corralled it back in, the Lady Raiders ran past La Habra with a 7-1 run.

A 5-0 run with two big kills from Fraga put the match out of reach at 22-15. Sonora cruised to the sweep from there.

“They came to play and we didn’t, they outplayed us because we didn’t have the desire to win,” Spear said. “Clearly we’re distracted and I don’t think all of them realized what was at stake. It’s a tough lesson learned.”

Ryana Murch led La Habra with 11 kills, Lexi Kolschefski added 10 kills and Corinne Bell finished with seven kills for the Lady Highlanders.

La Habra's Casey Lunceford chases after a loose ball during the second set in a 3-0 loss to Sonora, Thursday night.
La Habra’s Casey Lunceford chases after a loose ball during the second set in a 3-0 loss to Sonora, Thursday night.

Pilkington finished with 10 assists in the first set, while Ashly Hernandez tallied 19 assists in the second and third sets.

The win puts Sonora (8-15, 4-5) one game behind La Habra for third place in the Freeway League. The Lady Raiders finish the season with a crucial match against Sunny Hills at home, Tuesday night.

“We took Sunny Hills last time, hopefully we can do it again,” Johnson said. “With the way the girls played tonight, we just have to keep it up. It’s nice to see a group that’s sophomore-dominant going through this, it’s going to be exciting for us the next couple seasons.”

La Habra (9-15, 5-4) which has now dropped consecutive games, falls a game behind Fullerton for third place. The Lady Highlanders travel to Buena Park to close out the regular season, Tuesday night.

“[Buena Park] has some players that can play and if we don’t play to the best of our abilities, they can take a game or a match,” Spear said. “I’m not discounting them at all. It’s a matter of our mental focus, it wasn’t there tonight and we’re back to the drawing board.”

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