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WCHS student remembered after being killed by object on 57

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WCHS student remembered after being killed by object on 57

Posted on 02 December 2016 by La Habra Journal

By Jay Seidel
La Habra Journal

He was dedicated and someone who was always cracking jokes.
That’s how friends and coaches described Ethan Hawks, a junior at Whittier Christian who died Thursday morning after a unique accident.varsity-75_web
Hawks, 17, and his mother, Kat, were traveling south on the 57 Freeway south of Katella Avenue on the afternoon of  Nov. 19 when a metal object crashed through their windshield and struck Ethan on the right side of his face.
The piece of metal was roughly 7 to 10 pounds and severed his carotid artery. He also suffered extensive damage to his jaw and cheekbone.
His mother, who was driving and had picked him up from an event where he was volunteering, attempted to stop the bleeding as she drove to St. Joseph’s Hospital.  He was then transported to UCI Medical Center.
After being treated, he was placed into an induced coma to help him heal.  He had a bad reaction to medication he was given Wednesday night and was stabilized after going into septic shock.
However, Ethan died Thursday morning just after 5 a.m.
The Yorba Linda teen was known as a character and a fun kid to his friends at Whittier Christian.
The school established a GoFundMe page after the accident. More than $29,000 has been raised through donations by people who were touched by Ethan’s accident.
The Hawks family has shared they have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support and love they have received for Ethan.
“The overwhelming response of support for the Hawks family over the last few days is a testament to just how much Ethan was loved by his family and friends and how his story touched so many lives,” said Whittier Christian’s Head of School Carl Martinez.
“The Whittier Christian High School community is heavy-hearted today after losing Ethan Hawks to complications from the terrible accident that happened to him this past Saturday,” said WCHS Athletic Direcctor Rolland Essinger   “The Heralds stand in support of the Hawks family and will be there with them in the tough days, weeks and months ahead.”
Hawks was known as a fighter on the Heralds football team.
Last season, the junior suffered what many thought was a season ending leg fracture against Maranatha. However, after a rehabilitation, Hawks was back on the team practicing in spring.
Regarding Hawks tenacity and determination to rejoin his team, WCHS Head Football coach  Sergio Gradilla  described Hawks as a “tough young man.”
“His determination was amazing to watch,” Essinger said. “Most people thought he would never play again, but Ethan never wavered from his goal to come back.”
Gradilla shared that Hawks was loved by his teammates  and enjoyed making them laugh.
Nicknamed “Boom Stick” by his Herald teammates, Hawks had his whole team supporting him after the accident.
Whittier Christian Quarterback Quinn Commans wrote in a Twitter post, “Ethan, you were the craziest and happiest kid I’ve ever met and yet still couldn’t catch a break. It’s way too soon to see you go, but I wouldn’t want anyone else creating all the crazy memories, always asking about my day, reminding me how bad I was at football and most importantly telling me that you love me every single day. You wouldn’t stop hugging me until I said it back because you knew how much I hated being touched. I promise I will make you so proud.”
Essinger added that Hawks fought hard and he was supported by an amazing family.
“Ethan’s mom, dad, sister and uncle came alongside Ethan in such an incredible way,” Essinger said.  “The doctors and nurses at the UCI Medical Center fought with Ethan every step of the way as well and are certainly appreciated for all they did for him.”
The WCHS community held a gathering in honor of Hawks Friday at Herald Hall. Grief counselors and pastors were on campus Monday.
“Ethan will always be remembered as a free-spirited young man who would not let anything stand in the way of him achieving his goals,” Essinger said.  “We will certainly miss Ethan, and we are thankful for the time we had with him. God blessed us with Ethan Hawks.”
A “Celebration of Ethan’s Life” will be held Saturday, December 3, at 10 a.m. at Whittier Christian.

Click here to help support the Hawks family: https://www.gofundme.com/ethan-hawks-recovery-expenses

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Heralds top Coyotes in tournament championship

Posted on 01 January 2015 by La Habra Journal

By Luke Wilson
La Habra Journal

Champions of the Leon Davis Holiday Classic were crowned Wednesday night, as the Whittier Christian Heralds defeated the Buena Park Coyotes 57-50. The third time proved to be the charm for the Heralds as it was their third straight appearance in the Leon Davis Classic Finals, but their first tournament victory.Leon Davis Champs Web


“We’ve hosted this tournament every year now for I can’t remember how many years,” said Whittier Christian Athletic Director Rolland Esslinger, “It’s a tough tournament to win. We’ve got close a few times over the last couple of years, and we had to beat a really good team to pull it off this year. It was a great game.”


The game was electric from the very beginning with both teams not taking long to establish their style of play. Buena Park immediately battered their way into the paint, earning offensive rebounds and early free throw attempts thanks in no small part to Forward Deontae Beckham who had six of the team’s eight free throw attempts in the first half.


“We kind of got exposed tonight with our defensive rebounding,” said Heralds Head Coach Sherwin Durham, “there are some athletic teams in this league, so we’re going to have to put a body on them.”


While rebounding wasn’t a strength for the Heralds in this matchup, they were able to put their own stamp on the game and show why they’re called the “Runnin’ Heralds.”


“We’re really good at running the floor,” said Heralds Forward Justin Osborn, who earned an All-Tournament mention, “that’s probably our biggest strength.”WCHS basketball vs Western Leon Davis Semifial 2014


Every time Whittier Christian yanked down a rebound, there were options streaking down the floor, usually led by Osborn who had 11 points with a 50 percent field goal percentage. Between fast break points, and effective 3-point shooting, the Heralds were able to make up for their rebounding.


The Heralds were raining down 3’s seemingly all match whenever there was an opening in the Coyotes zone defense, and it worked thanks to Guards Kaipo Villeza and Christian Alvis-Labadie who respectively shot 50 percent from behind the arc on a combined 12 3-point attempts.


“We don’t see a lot of zone defense, “ Durham explained. “We see a lot of man typically. We feel like we have some good perimeter shooters, and when these kids get open looks they tend to knock ’em down.”WCHS basketball vs Western Leon Davis Semifial 2014


Alvis-Labadie earned MVP honors for the Tournament after leading his team in scoring in the Finals with 16 points.

“It’s an honor. Hopefully I’ll be able to get another one soon,” Alvis-Labadiec said. Otherwise every comment was all team, team, team. “It feels real good to get Coach a tournament win. That means a lot to us.”


The game came down to the wire after a hectic fourth quarter. Frequent fouls, including a technical by the Coyotes, tipped things in the Heralds favor late. As the clock winded down, the Coyotes forced the Heralds to make free throws down the stretch, but a couple clutch shots from the line by Villeza were able to seal the deal and earn the eleventh win of the season for Whittier Christian.


The Heralds season rolls on Saturday, January 3 when they take on the La Serna Lancers at home at 6:30 p.m. This will be the last game for Whittier Christian before they begin their run through the difficult Olympic League.

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Heralds start strong to finish Western, advance to finals

Posted on 30 December 2014 by La Habra Journal

By Luke Wilson
La Habra Journal

The Whittier Christian Heralds advanced to the finals of the annual Leon Davis Classic on Tuesday night for the third straight year after riding a dominant first quarter to a 56-42 win over Western High School. WCHS basketball vs Western Leon Davis Semifial 2014

The Heralds started with a 10-0 run. Three steals over that span helped them get out and run the fast break, allowing them to extend an early lead.

“We knew we could jump on this team early,” said Herald forward Noah Evans, “We tried to do everything we could to get out to a fast start after a slow start last night.”

Whittier Christian Head Coach Sherwin Durham echoed the sentiment. “We came out with a lot of energy. I think these kids really wanted to get to the finals and now we have to finish the job.”

Western began making adjustments early to combat the slow start. Even after quickly subbing four players, and resorting to a full-court press early on, the Pioneers couldn’t get anything started in the first quarter. After eight minutes, the score was 18-2 Whittier Christian.

The high-octane scoring continued for the Heralds in the second quarter. Led by Evans and Forward Justin Osborn, Whittier Christian extended their lead to 32-12 at the end of the first half. Between Evans heating up from 3-point land, and Osborn leaking out in transition, Western couldn’t spark any sort of a run.

When the second half began, it was clear that the Pioneers wouldn’t allow a start similar to the first half. While they weren’t able to do a lot in the third quarter to slow down the Heralds, they did get their offense going with some key 3-pointers and some well-earned free throws. After a high scoring third quarter, the score was 53-28 Whittier Christian.WCHS basketball vs Western Leon Davis Semifial 2014

The fourth quarter was where the Pioneers began their comeback. Starting with a 7-0 run, Western did everything they could to get baskets inside and draw fouls to close the gap. Weathering the storm with some clutch aid from Guard Christian Alvis-Labadie, Whittier Christian was able to hold onto the lead to earn their tenth win of the young season and officially punch their ticket to a third straight Leon Davis Classic Finals appearance.
Memories of last season’s Leon Davis Classic conclusion are still fresh in the Heralds’ minds. In their repeat finals appearance, the Heralds were defeated, and they are determined to do things differently this time around.

“We’ve got to stay focused,” said Coach Durham, “We’ve got to finish our mission and do what we came to accomplish tomorrow.”

The finals of the Leon Davis Classic will pit the Heralds against the Buena Park Coyotes who come into the game holding a 10-2 record.

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Lady Heralds soar past Eagles in first round

Posted on 12 November 2014 by La Habra Journal

The Lady Heralds came in focused to take their first victory in CIF playoffs.

They were on the road against Calvary Chapel, but started strong and swept all three games (25-19, 25-15, 25-21) to move past the Eagles.Web_LHJ WCHS_LHHS_Vball__0166

“It’s huge. Even though we have a lot of girls that have been there in previous years, this is a brand new team,” said Whittier Christian Head Coach Todd Morrison.

The Lady Heralds’ faced their biggest challenge in the third game, where the Eagles came with their best effort.

“For us to come out and just focus, concentrate, even to get through kind of the bumps there, it means a lot going forward, knowing who we could expect to see,” Morrison said.

Despite charging out to a 4-0 lead, the Eagles battled back to win 6 points in a row.

“I always tell the girls, your best effort is required all the time, and those little things that happen, you got to persevere,” Morrison said.

It went back and forth with 6 ties in just the third game, but the Heralds made went on an 8-2 run to separate themselves from the Eagles and position themselves to move on in CIF.

“I told them, I’m not going to burn a timeout on you, because I want you guys to figure it out, and that’s what it takes,” Morrison said.

Before that, the Heralds steadily separated themselves in game one, and dominated game two. Before the six-point run, it looked like the Heralds would cruise to their round one victory.

The Heralds were led by outside hitters Mandy Sides and Jeanna Reinis who led the team in kills.

Christa Evans was a key contributor in blocks, early in game one from the middle.Web_LHJ WCHS_LHHS_Vball__0226

Kiana Louie led the defensive effort and came up with big blocks and kills up the middle for the Heralds.

“I think for this team, sky is the limit for us, if we stick together and just, play volleyball,” Morrison said.

The Heralds will play Brea Olinda at home on Thursday night.

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Heralds hold off Bishop at home

Posted on 30 August 2014 by La Habra Journal

By Jeremiah Girard
La Habra Journal

The Whittier Christian Heralds started their season off on the right foot with a 33-25 win over the Bishop Broncos, Friday at Whittier College.WCHS FB-2952_web

Things did not start of well for the Heralds and the Broncos jumped on them early. There were three different possessions in the first half where Whittier Christian had the ball inside the Bishop 10-yard line and did not score. They missed two field goals.

“The way I look at it, we left 24 points off of the board,” said Herald head coach Sergio Gradilla, “We need to cut that out going forward.”

Bishop’s quarterback, Ryan Graves, had it going early and threw two touchdown passes in the first half to put Bishop up 12-7. Graves finished with 210 yards on 8-16 throwing and four touchdowns. Then Whittier Christian woke up.

“For whatever reason we came out flat,” Gradilla said. “They woke up and responded well and I was glad to come away with the win.”

The big difference for the Heralds was sophomore running back Justin Osborn. He only saw the endzone once, but was a consistent work horse for Whittier Christian. He finished the game with 213 rushing yards.

“It felt good to go out and do that on my first varsity game,” Osborn said. “I was nervous at first but when the game started I got my head into it and went out and delivered.”

Nick Watase was also big for the Heralds and saw the end zone three times. He had a 39-yard receiving touchdown and rushing touchdowns from five and six yards. He had 148 receiving yards and 33 rushing yards.

Whittier Christian’s Cooper Hughes went 20-37 passing for 274 yards. He threw two touchdowns and an interception.

“I thought that we played well overall today but the defense needs some tightening up and we need a better understanding of our formations,” Gradilla said. “I think we are in a pretty good place going forward though.”

The Heralds (1-0) will look to improve to 2-0 against Brethren Christian, Thursday at 7 p.m. at Ocean View High School in Huntington Beach.


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Heralds jump early, hang on for second-round win over Cabrillo

Posted on 28 May 2014 by La Habra Journal

Whittier Christian second baseman James Veloff records an out at second base and fires to first to complete one of the Heralds' two double plays in the first two innings during a 4-3 second-round playoff win over Cabrillo at home, Wednesday afternoon.

Whittier Christian second baseman Logan Veloff records an out at second base and fires to first to complete one of the Heralds’ two double plays in the first two innings during a 4-3 second-round playoff win over Cabrillo at home, Wednesday afternoon.

Story and photos by Erik Markus
La Habra Journal

The Heralds’ baseball team had to persevere, but held on to an early four-run lead to knock out Cabrillo of Lompoc, Wednesday at home, to advance to the quarterfinals of the CIF-SS Division 5 playoffs.

Mike Rafter pitched through trouble to maintain the 4-3 final score and Brett Greene slammed to door in the seventh inning to push Whittier Christian into the next round.

The Heralds came out of the gate swinging. Mike Rafter singled and Cooper Hughes doubled down the third base line. With runners on second and third, Mike Rubio caught the infield off guard, leading to the Heralds’ first run.

“Execution offense in that first inning, we forced the issue a little bit, guys souled out, made plays, and four runs later, that’s a nice start for your pitcher,” said Brent Lavoie, Heralds head coach.

Joseph Cobian stuck his bat out and hit a slow dribbler towards the shortstop. Cooper Hughes scored easily, while Rubio and Cobian took an extra base on an overthrow.

With runners on second and third base, Mike Rubio scored on a groundout from Brett Greene and Joseph Cobian crossed the plate on a squeeze bunt from Brian Rafter.

Through four innings Rafter pitched his way through jams with minimal help from the umpires. As the Conquistadores began to see more pitches from Rafter, their at bats began to lead to run production.

In the fifth inning, Cabrillo’s Boomer Duffey doubled to left-center field, his second double on the afternoon. Brett Gregory drove him home with a single. Oswaldo Medina added another single to put runners on first and second base.

Heralds' starting pitcher Mike Rafter throws a pitch during Whittier Christian's 4-3 second-round victory over Cabrillo at home, Wednesday afternoon.

Heralds’ starting pitcher Mike Rafter throws a pitch during Whittier Christian’s 4-3 second-round victory over Cabrillo at home, Wednesday afternoon.

Feeling the pressure, the Conquistadores attempted a double steal, which led to a second run crossing the plate when Hughes’ throw got past Rubio’s glove at third base.

With two outs in the sixth inning, the Heralds’ grasp on the lead began to unravel.

A pitch from Mike Rafter skipped past Hughes, which put a runner at second base. Alex Aguilar brought Cabrillo within one run with a double to left. Dakota Veltkamp made a strong throw to cut down the runner at home, but the throw was cut off before it reached the plate.

Brett Greene came in to relieve Rafter, and induced a popout to escape the jam.

“I just had confidence in our guys, that game at Mary Star last week had a real similar ending, so I think that switch of been-here-done-that went off, you couldn’t tell that those guys played timid, they just keep playing the game” Lavoie said.

With the end in sight, Greene cruised through the seventh inning to grab the save for the Heralds.

Greene’s confidence does not reflect a player who has been on varsity for only a month, but his contributions have come at an important time.

Greene has received help from some of the leaders on the team like Rubio, Cobian and Mike Rafter and appreciated the chance to come in to relieve Rafter.

“It felt really good to be the one to win the game, it feels really great,” Greene said.

Mike Rafter took on the challenge of shutting down Cabrillo (18-13), which was fresh off a 12-inning upset of Woodcrest Christian last Friday.

Rafter struck out two in the first inning and reaped the benefit of two double plays in the second and third inning.

“We’ve turned more double plays in the past two games than we did in the past twelve games,” Lavoie said.

The Heralds have needed to adjust when Mike Rafter pitches, and have seen multiple players manning second base, but today Logan Veloff took on the challenge.

Veloff held down second base with no issues and gave his best effort with the stick in the second inning with a double between two shallow outfielders in center field and right field. Veloff continued to give the outfielders fits when he hit a bloop single in his second at bat.

“At the mid point in the year he started taking some pitches, and now he’s more in attack mode,” Lavoie said. “(Veloff’s) having success hitting the ball hard, even when he gets out.”

With a home game Friday against Big Bear High School, the Heralds (17-12) will need to continue their focus.

“Sometimes home teams can get a little too comfy in their own element,” Lavoie said.

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Athlete Spotlight: Danny Mueller’s unique leadership was key for Heralds volleyball

Posted on 28 May 2014 by La Habra Journal

Danny Mueller provided plenty of momentum shifts with kills like this one against Heritage Christian, Apr. 25.

Danny Mueller provided plenty of momentum shifts with kills like this one against Heritage Christian, Apr. 25.

by Nathan Percy
La Habra Journal

Despite falling in the first round of the CIF-SS Division 3 playoffs, the Whittier Christian boys’ volleyball team made big progress in its second season under Head Coach Chris Duran.

One of the big reasons for that progress was the senior leadership of Danny Mueller, who found ways to step up for his team in big situations throughout the 2014 season.

A three-sport athlete and three year varsity member in volleyball, Mueller said he felt privileged to be selected as a captain on this year’s team.

“I feel our guys are very respectful of one another and I think we have a really tight-knit group,” Danny said. “Being a co-captain with Austin [Tafoya] is an honor because we’ve played all four years together and we used to play club together. It’s been a lot of fun and a privilege to be captain.”

But Danny knew that being a captain extended past being vocal, throughout the course of the season, Danny has been a catalyst for positive momentum shifts all season.

“He’s been in the program all four years, three years on varsity,” Duran said. “He’s our most consistent overall player over the last couple years where if we needed that pass or that kill, we knew we could go to him and he would make things happen.”

A big reason for Danny’s success is the work ethic he employs in practice.

But through it all, it’s his ability to keep his emotions balanced, whether in practice or in matches, that catches his coach’s eye the most.

“He’s a great passer, great work ethic, always even-keel and if he makes a mistake it’s the same as if he makes a great hit,” Duran said. “It’s cool for us to see him calm and collected all the time. He’s always ready to step up to any challenge to put his team in a spot to succeed.”

Danny’s ability to rise to the occasion on the court isn’t as big of a surprise when finding out exactly how involved the senior is on other parts of campus.

In addition to being a co-captain on volleyball, Danny also played soccer and ran cross country for the Heralds this year.

On top of the athletics, Danny is also a member of the Senior Class Council and ASB, while also acting as Key Club President, Spanish Club President and a participant in the Creative Writing Club.

“[He’s a] Great kid, great heart, great leader, involved in so many things on campus, it’s great to see student athletes create a great environment for themselves,” Duran said. “He’s highly involved in everything and everything he does he puts a lot of hard work into as well.”

Along with his accomplishments on the field, Danny was chosen as a CIF Scholar Athlete and also felt proud to be a part of coordinating the Sadie Hawkins event for the school this season, despite having to make some last-minute changes.

The hard work and leadership could be seen on the court as well this season. Danny, an outside hitter, came up with big kills when the Heralds needed to stop an opponent’s run.

He also provided plenty of support while on the back line this season.

“I think you have to have that mentality, when you know you need the points, you just have to turn it on and come in for your team on those points that really matter,” he said.

However, one aspect of Danny’s leadership role that he felt he had to grow into was how to lead the team and be positive at the same time.

“You also have to bring up the encouragement, we get down on ourselves sometimes and I just try to help the team stay positive and remind them that we’ll get the next point,” Danny said. “I think that’s really important. It’s been my biggest challenge, but I think it’s improved a lot.”

Danny hopes to take what he’s learned through his time at Whittier Christian and apply it next year at Cal State Fullerton, where he will be majoring in Biology.

Coordinating with that major, Danny said that during his senior year, Anatomy has been by far his favorite class.

“We’ve done several dissections and we’ve had the ability to shadow different jobs in the medical field and that’s definitely what I want to do is sports medicine,” he said. “It keeps me excited.”

When it comes to the respect Danny has for his teammates, coaches and opponents, he said he gets most of that by following the advice and example of his role model, Rolland Esslinger, Whittier Christian’s athletic director.

“He is hands-down one of the most sincere people you will ever meet,” Danny said. “He emphasizes so much the importance of good sportsmanship and character and I think it’s something that people struggle with is acting the same around your friends, parents and teachers. He really tries to teach all of our student athletes to have good sportsmanship and to be yourself, have that true character and integrity when you’re on and off the court.”

When Danny isn’t studying hard or practicing on the court, he still keeps himself busy. The senior enjoys playing tennis with friends, geocaching, skiing and also writes a blog on the subject of credit unions.

But as he gets ready to head to the next stage in his life, Danny will take with him some great life lessons as well as some lasting memories.

“I’ve just really enjoyed playing with everyone, we have so much fun that it’s such a privilege, and playing for these coaches, I couldn’t ask for better coaches,” Danny said. “It’s been a great season, I’ve been so blessed to be here at Whittier Christian.”

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Heralds go out swinging, fall in close match to Westminster in first round

Posted on 13 May 2014 by La Habra Journal

Whittier Christian's Branden Osborn (shown against Heritage Christian) gave the Heralds a lift with his play in the third and fourth games, but the Heralds saw their season end after a 3-2 loss in the first round of the Division 3 playoffs, Thursday night at Westminster High.

Whittier Christian’s Branden Osborn (shown against Heritage Christian) gave the Heralds a lift with his play in the third and fourth games, but the Heralds saw their season end after a 3-2 loss in the first round of the Division 3 playoffs, Thursday night at Westminster High.

by Nathan Percy
La Habra Journal

The Whittier Christian volleyball team had bounced back from a 2-0 deficit and seemingly had all the momentum heading into a deciding Game 5 against Westminster in the first round of the CIF-SS Division 3 playoffs.

Sparked by middle blocker Branden Osborn, the Heralds were coming off their most decisive game win, tying up the match by taking the fourth game 25-10.

However, Westminster went back to its roots, using floor coverage followed by its speed to cause fits for the Heralds’ front line as outside hitter Minh Nguyen led the host Lions to a 15-7 win in Game 5 to down the Heralds, 3-2 (25-18, 25-23, 17-25, 10-25, 15-7), at Westminster High.

“When we came in, we knew that [Nguyen] was their go-to guy, so we tried to set up the block, pinching over a little bit on that left side, but we couldn’t close it early,” said Chris Duran, Whittier Christian head coach. “I think in that fifth game, we just tightened up a little bit. I don’t know if that was the anticipation or urgency of what that game meant, but we just couldn’t pull it out. We gave some points away and when you do that, it’s always tough to win. They’re a great passing team and a great defensive team, which took us out of rhythm.”

Going into the matchup, the Heralds had a clear-cut size advantage on paper, but the Lions (15-5-1) countered with their speed and coverage as well as the strength of Nguyen, who was constantly on the attack in the first two games.

Despite the Heralds’ front line of 6-foot-8 Stephen Nolin, 6-foot-6 Jimmy West and 6-foot-5 Shawn Stolt, the 5-foot-8 Nguyen was the Lions’ go to attacker and he rifled plenty of shots through the block.

“Having the offensive speed was a good way of countering [their front line],” said Kirk Arradaza, Westminster head coach. “Yeah, they had the height, yeah they had power, but we wanted to match it with speed and second opportunities.”

While the Heralds had no answer for Nguyen early, the team adjusted well in the third and fourth games, changing up the middle blockers and putting in Osborn, who was more than ready for the task.

A major factor in the fourth game, Osborn sparked the Heralds with four kills and two blocks for points as Whittier Christian kept its foot on the gas pedal and sped to a Game 4 win.

“We became more aware of the things we needed to do and we limited our mistakes, we played really well,” Duran said. “We made the adjustment to put in Branden in Game 3 and he’s a playmaker. He’s always ready to go, he’s so versatile and athletic that we have options with him. He capitalized and maximized his potential and he made it happen for us. It helped change the momentum.”

The third game was all about offensive flow as setter Austin Tafoya connected with his hitters and picked up 13 assists to go along with one block for a point. Stolt picked up four kills in the set and the Heralds tallied four total points on the block.

Feeling in the moment, the Heralds easily carried that momentum into the fourth game.

However, after a long conversation, Westminster found a way to return to its early form, freeing up Nguyen for more big hits to help the Lions maintain an early lead.

“Throughout the season, emotion and motivation have been a key and something we want to control throughout the match,” Arradaza said. “In the third and fourth sets, their faces were a little down, so in the fifth set, we knew we needed to get our emotion up and use it in a positive way and get the game going. That’s pretty much what kicked it for us.”

Later in the set, a pair of crucial hitting errors by Nolin and a block that fell out of bounds spelled the end of what was a great season for the Heralds in Duran’s second year at the helm.

Whittier Christian finishes the year with a 19-9 overall record and will see five seniors graduate, all of them starters.

“It was a great season, we had a great group of guys, so many great personalities and it’s such a mixed breed,” Duran said. “They’ve been awesome. This being my second year, we wanted to put Whittier Chrsitian volleyball back on the map and we’ve made playoffs these last two years. We’re excited for the future, it’s tough to see the guys work so hard and for us to be right there, but we dug ourselves a hole early. We fought, but the other team came out on top.”

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Heralds fall in close contest against league rival Valley Christian

Posted on 07 May 2014 by La Habra Journal

Cooper Hughes (shown against Crean Lutheran) drove home the first of two Heralds' runs with a groundout during Whittier Christian's 3-2 loss to Valley Christian, Tuesday night at Valley Christian High.

Cooper Hughes (shown against Crean Lutheran) drove home the first of two Heralds’ runs with a groundout during Whittier Christian’s 3-2 loss to Valley Christian, Tuesday night at Valley Christian High.

by Erik Markus
La Habra Journal

CERRITOS – A transfer from Whittier Christian before the start of the season, Tyler Radecki pitched a gem for Valley Christian leading to a win over his former team 3-2, Tuesday night at Valley Christian High.

After a quick first inning, the Crusaders roughed up Mike Rafter, who started the second inning with a strike out, but then gave up a single past second baseman Daniel Howard.

The next hitter sent a long fly to Dakota Veltkamp which dropped when it caught the wind. Rafter was able to pitch out of the jam with the Heralds down one run.

The Crusaders continued to swing hot sticks in the third inning.

Valley Christian doubled the lead with three consecutive singles to start the third inning. A sacrifice fly scored the third run. Again Rafter was able to battle and escape the jam down 3-0.

The Heralds picked up Rafter in the fourth inning when Mike Rubio led off the inning with a single.

“Offensively it took us a time through the lineup to get our timing down,” said Brent Lavoie, Heralds head coach. “(The) second and third time I thought we squared up a bunch of balls, the process was really good, (we) hit a bunch of balls hard.”

Brian Rafter tried to sacrifice the runner over to second, but ended up pushing the bunt too far and Rubio was thrown out at second base. Mike Rafter reached on an error and Joseph Cobian was hit by a pitch to load the bases.

Cooper Hughes grounded out but scored a run, Mike Rafter scored on a passed ball to narrow the gap to one run.

The Crusaders tried to extend their lead, but were shut down by Mike Rafter who pitched around a leadoff double.

“When the pressure moments arise, Rafter seems to get a little bit better,” Lavoie said. “There’s no fear of failure, bottom line the kid’s not afraid to fail and that’s what makes him so good, being able to battle in those type of situations.”

By this point in the night, the Heralds had seen Radecki’s best stuff, but were unable to push across another run.

“(Radecki) pitched a heck of a game, kept some guys off balance, and they played defense behind him,” Lavoie said.

In the seventh inning, junior varsity call up Brett Green had a long single off the right centerfield wall. Isaiah Carreon followed him with a single, but the Heralds were retired on a called strike three and a lineout to the first baseman.

The Heralds host Valley Christian on Friday. With a 4-5 record in the Olympic League, the Heralds control their own destiny for a playoff birth. The Heralds should be able to seal a playoff birth with a win in one of their next three games.

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Key runs vault Heritage Christian past Heralds at home

Posted on 25 April 2014 by La Habra Journal

Whittier Christian's Jimmy West hits around a block attempt by Heritage Christian's Caleb Walden and Mike Otazu during the fourth set of the Heralds' 3-1 loss at home, Thursday night.

Whittier Christian’s Jimmy West hits around a block attempt by Heritage Christian’s Caleb Walden and Mike Otazu during the fourth set of the Heralds’ 3-1 loss at home, Thursday night.

by Nathan Percy
La Habra Journal

With an opportunity to force a tie atop the Olympic League standings, the Whittier Christian boys’ volleyball team stumbled in the third and fourth sets, falling to Heritage Christian 3-1 at home, Thursday night.

After falling in a close first set, the Heralds battled back to tie up the match with a convincing second set. However, the Warriors came up with key runs toward the end of the final two sets, leading to a 21-25, 25-17, 20-25, 18-25 final for Whittier Christian.

The loss also marks the Heralds’ first at home this season.

“This win is huge, they’re a quality team and we know we’re going to get everyone’s best shot in league,” said Sheldon Sheehy, Heritage Christian head coach. “You have to come prepared each and every night in order to take that and come out on top.”

The difference was in the swings, as the Heralds second set victory produced 15 kills and no service errors, while the other three sets were hindered by hitting errors.

Whittier Christian (17-7, 4-2) had its offense running smoothly in the second set, as Jimmy West tallied five kills, while Ron Bellamy added four more from the middle blocker position.

Setter Austin Tafoya tallied 14 assists in the set and added a serving ace as the Heralds’ lone deficit was at 1-0.

Whittier Chrisitan's Austin Tafoya blocks an attack by Heritage Christian during the fourth set of the Heralds' 3-1 loss at home to Heritage Christian, Thursday night.

Whittier Chrisitan’s Austin Tafoya blocks an attack by Heritage Christian during the fourth set of the Heralds’ 3-1 loss at home to Heritage Christian, Thursday night.

“In the first game, we had only five kills and 10 hitting errors and we’re a team that needs to find a rhythm early,” said Chris Duran, Heralds head coach. “In the second set, we executed at a higher level and maintained the momentum throughout that entire game. It’s something that we can’t lose, we just couldn’t get over the hill in the later games, but we’re more than capable of doing that.”

But as quickly as the Heralds gained momentum, the Warriors took it back late in the third set. After battling back to a one-point deficit at 16-15, four consecutive errors by the Heralds gave Heritage Christian the separation it needed to close out the set.

The fourth set remained tight, as both teams battled to a 16-16 tie midway through.

However, the front-line presence by Heritage Christian made it difficult for Whittier Christian’s hitters to get solid shots.

“We just couldn’t hit around the block, which led to a lot of errors, they’re a great defensive team,” Duran said. “They’re a great serving team too, they put the ball where it needs to go, which takes us out of rhythm offensively. There were plays that seemed too good to be true for us not to put the ball down. We missed those moments tonight.”

The Warriors (19-0-1, 5-0) ended the match on a 9-2 run, with the final three points coming by way of consecutive serving aces by junior Caleb Walden.

Whittier Christian's Danny Mueller records a kill through the block by Heritage Christian's Luke Irving during the third set of the Heralds' 3-1 loss, Thursday night at home.

Whittier Christian’s Danny Mueller records a kill through the block by Heritage Christian’s Luke Irving during the third set of the Heralds’ 3-1 loss, Thursday night at home.

“Our front line presence was big, we scouted and kind of knew what they were going to try to do at the net,” Sheehy said. “We wanted to take away their primary option and make them try to hit their secondary shot and put diggers there. It didn’t really pay dividends until the third and fourth sets, but we finally got there.”

Jimmy West and Shawn Stolt led the team offensively, while senior libero Kevin Hoskins kept plays alive with some spectacular work on the back line.

Outside hitters Stephen Doerbecker and Walden led the way for Heritage Christian, with Mike Otazu providing the assists.

Whittier Christian will attempt to bounce back with a tough road match against rival Valley Christian, Tuesday night at Valley Christian High.

“We’re hoping to finish out with a second place finish, which will set us in a good spot for playoffs,” Duran said. “We’re hoping for 20-7, which would be a great season for us, but we’re taking it one game at a time. Valley is going to be tough, they took us to five games the first time around and it’s always tough playing in their place.”

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