Lady Heralds take title
By Nathan Percy
La Habra Journal
ORANGE – In what was an intense matchup, the Whittier Christian girls volleyball team came from behind to defeat Chadwick 3-1 and win the CIF-SS Division 2A championship, Saturday morning at Santiago Canyon College.
All four sets came down to the wire and the Lady Heralds responded well after a first set loss, to win the title 22-25, 25-20, 25-23, 25-21 for their second championship in the last four years.
“I think after losing the first set, gaining that momentum in Game two showed us that this is a team we could compete with,” said Shawn Hunter, Whittier Christian head coach. “They’re a good fundamental team, but I told the girls that like any other team, they’ll make mistakes and it’s our job to execute and force those mistakes.”
Kylee Wolfe finished the match with a game-high 20 kills, Deanna Blaine added 11 kills and Jennifer Washle ran the offense with 40 assists.
Nicole Santos led the back line with 29 digs, with help from Washle who added 18 digs.
In the first set, the teams traded points as both teams tried to establish themselves early.
At one point, Whittier Christian led 18-13 before the Dolphins made their run. Abbe Holtze totaled six of her team-high 19 kills in the first set and Chadwick ran away with the 25-22 set win on a 6-0 run.
“I think our team started out slow, at least for our standards,” Hunter said.
With the lead, Chadwick opened up an early 13-6 lead against Whittier Christian in the second set. It would be the last big lead Chadwick saw for the remainder of the match.
Washle began to sync with the outside hitters, totaling 14 assists in the second set and the Lady Heralds came back with a 8-1 run en route to a 25-20 set victory.
In a crucial third set, the teams battled to a 20-20 draw before the Lady Heralds put it away with aces from Wolfe and Blaine, as well as a big block by Megan Buchanan and Kylie Cooke.
Whittier Christian took a 12-6 lead to start the fourth set with more outside attacks from Wolfe.
But no early leads in the match were safe and the Dolphins reeled in the Lady Heralds to tie it at 17-17.
With the score knotted at 21-21, the Lady Heralds took the next three points and eventually took the match point on a block by Buchanan and Cooke to win the Division 2A Championship.
“These girls practice how they play and I think that really shined through today,” Hunter said in regards to pulling away late in the final two sets. “We’re always working on finding ways to finish well.”
While Holtze led the team in kills, Sarah Lucenti led with 26 assists, while Emily Newton added 19 assists.
Sarah Gurbach led on the back line with 26 digs, with help from Holtze who tallied 25 digs.
Chadwick (24-3) will continue its season with a road match to begin the state playoffs.
Before the season, Hunter said that the team chemistry on this year’s team was strong. That attribute was noticeable in the Lady Heralds run through the Division 2A playoffs, especially for first-year varsity starter Washle.
“We click together well and I think that really helps when it comes to momentum,” Washle said. “We’re all really close friends and for me as the setter, I know them really well, so it’s easy to set for them.”
Whittier Christian will continue its season with a home match in the state playoffs.
“I think losing that first set really put some pressure on u