Lady Heralds trounce Cypress to reach semifinals
by Nathan Percy
La Habra Journal
The Whittier Christian girls’ volleyball team felt little resistance in a 3-0 sweep over Cypress, which sent the Lady Heralds into the semifinals of the CIF-SS Division 2A playoffs, Saturday night at Whittier Christian High.
The win puts the Lady Heralds in the semifinals for the sixth consecutive year.
Whittier Christian was dominant from the beginning, thanks to consistent serving, first-ball contacts and its ability to spread the ball on offense.
The Lady Heralds started the match on a 15-2 run and never looked back.
“We wanted to start strong, we knew a lot of the girls on their team,” said Deanna Blaine, Whittier Christian outside hitter. “This was the first game we started with a big run and it was such a huge momentum builder for us.”
Blaine powered the Lady Heralds’ offense with 17 kills and Nicole Santos, the team’s senior libero, returned from a shoulder injury to provide 27 digs in a 25-7, 25-14, 25-12 sweep.
Jennifer Washle tallied 37 assists and Kylee Wolfe added nine kills.
“It was good to be back out with the whole team,” Santos said. “[Cypress] hit pretty well tonight, they mostly hit in seam, but I was able to get to them, so it was pretty fun…. The shoulder feels great.”
Whittier Christian’s strong start made for a quick first set. Wolfe established the outside with two kills early on and Blaine cemented it with four later in the set.
“The biggest thing we had to control was ourselves,” Hunter said. “If we have great first-ball contacts and we serve and pass well, I really think it’s that transition in the entire game of volleyball and I think we did that very well tonight.”
The Lady Centurions regrouped at the start of the second set and tried to establish outside hitter Katie Ashman, who had two early kills.
However, the Lady Heralds pulled away and eventually built a 20-10 lead
Stephanie Stevenson provided a few swings from the middle in the second set, but when attacks were blocked, Washle set the ball to the outsides to finish off points.
“Both outsides did a great job,” Hunter said. “We had a thought process on what we wanted to do to slow them down with our offense and I think we executed that very well.”
Cypress again challenged the Lady Heralds early in the third set, but with the score tied at 6-6, Whittier Christian began sending the ball to Blaine.
The senior finished with seven big kills in the final set to go with a pair of aces to lead the Lady Heralds (30-6) into the semifinals.
“Each game, I think our offense is getting better,” Blaine said. “We just need to keep the energy up and we’ll continue to do well.”
Ashman and Alyson Utke each had three kills for Cypress (19-11), while Alina Smith tallied 10 assists.
Whittier Christian will be on the road at Troy, which defeated Chadwick 3-1, Tuesday in the semifinals.
Tuesday’s match will mark the third time the two teams have met in the playoffs in the past four years.
“[Cypress] is a good volleyball team, I think the difference was our start, I think it threw them off,” Hunter said. “Whoever we face in the semifinals, we have a history with them. I’m looking forward to playing a really good volleyball team. I think the ball lies in our court, if we can compete to the best of our abilities, that’s all we could ask for.”