Lady Heralds sweep Yorba Linda on way to championships
By Nathan Percy
La Habra Journal
YORBA LINDA — With a 3-0 sweep at Yorba Linda High, the Whittier Christian girls volleyball team is heading back to the championship match in the CIF-SS Division 2A playoffs after defeating the Lady Mustangs on the road.
The Lady Heralds controlled the match throughout, only allowing a little breathing room to the Lady Mustangs in the third set in a 25-14, 25-14, 25-20 victory.
“They’ve done a great job, they compete at all times,” said Shawn Hunter, Whittier Christian head coach. “I think that’s the biggest thing, whether we’re in the lead or behind, their competition level and effort is awesome for me to be able to coach.”
After struggling at the start in the quarterfinals against Mayfield, Whittier Christian came out with a flurry to set the tone in Game 1.
That tone would continue through the second game before Yorba Linda mounted a challenge in the third game.
It was the second time that Whittier Christian and Yorba Linda met this season and Hunter believes that seeing the Lady Mustangs once may have helped his team.
“We had a feel for what they were going to do, but we also wanted to maintain what we could do on our side of the court,” Hunter said. “I think it was important for our girls to play loose, maybe goof around a bit and have fun with each other.”
Deanna Blaine led the Lady Heralds attack with 13 kills, Kylee Wolfe added 10 kills and Kylie Cooke tallied nine kills as Whittier Christian spread the ball to all angles.
Jennifer Washle ran the offense with 29 assists in three sets and Nicole Santos led the back line with 18 digs, while Wolfe and Washle each had 11 digs.
After allowing the first point to Yorba Linda in Game 1, Santos held serve during a 6-0 run in which the Lady Mustangs struggled on the return.
After trading points, Washle helped put the Lady Heralds further ahead with a 6-0 run of her own. Like Santos, Washle’s serve put Yorba Linda out of system and the Lady Mustangs again struggled to return the ball.
Stephanie Stevenson blocked two shots by Yorba Linda down the stretch and Blaine put it away with kills on three of the final four points.
The second game went similarly for Whittier Christian. Tied 5-5, Blaine put Yorba Linda out of system for a 6-0 run.
As the set continued, the Lady Heralds picked apart Yorba Linda, exploiting weak spots and countering nearly every attack the Lady Mustangs threw at them.
“We watched a lot of film to get ready and see what they were going to do,” Hunter said. “They have a great offense and we wanted to slow them down and get them out of system. We do well in transition, that’s our game and we were able to do that tonight.”
Blaine again was key down the stretch with kills, but Wolfe also tallied two late aces as the Lady Heralds took a 2-0 lead.
Missy Owens assisted nine of the Lady Mustangs’ 14 points in the second set.
Yorba Linda came out with more fire in the third set and, with the home crowd behind it, the team fought back after an early surge by Whittier Christian to tie the set at 13-13.
But that’s as close as the Lady Mustangs got as Washle spread the ball around the front line and Blaine held for another late 6-0 run.
Washle assisted seven of the Whittier Christian’s final 10 points and Cooke put the match away with a tip kill, sending the Lady Heralds to their second consecutive championship match in Division 2A.
The Lady Heralds also will qualify for a berth into the state playoffs.
Yorba Linda was led on the attack by Aspen Potter with nine kills and Katelyn Valor added eight kills. Owens finished the match with 25 assists.
But for Hunter, this is the fourth team in the last five years to reach a CIF-SS championship game, with the last two in Division 2A. The Lady Heralds won the Division 4AA Championship in the 2009 season.
“I think the girls are ecstatic about it and I’m excited for them,” Hunter said. “To see their work ethic come to fruition and to show the fans how well they can compete, it’s fun to watch.”
The CIF-SS Division 2A championship match will take place at Santiago Canyon College on Saturday morning at 11:30 a.m.