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Lady Highlanders sweep rivalry series with four-set win

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Lady Highlanders sweep rivalry series with four-set win

Posted on 14 October 2016 by La Habra Journal

By Jason Burch
La Habra Journal

La Habra traveled across town to Sonora High School to conclude the season series in volleyball and walked away with a

La Habra's Marina Pilkington tries to his a shot past Sonora's Sophia Kane and Kyra Sims Thursday at Sonora.

La Habra’s Marina Pilkington tries to hit a shot past Sonora’s Sophia Kane and Kyra Sims Thursday at Sonora.

nearly identical performance as the previous meeting, taking three-of-four sets in convincing fashion Thursday night.

 

 

Senior Marina Pilkington wasn’t available a couple weeks ago when the two teams met at La Habra, but she certainly made her presence felt with 10 kills and a host of blocks, including an emphatic spike for match point and the 25-16 victory.

La Habra Head Coach Adrianne Spear said she was really pleased with the way the girls responded after a tough five-set loss to Troy.

“We came off a tough loss to Troy, we took them to five and I was hoping that wouldn’t affect us, but take all that energy from the previous game and carry it over to tonight,” Spear said. “I think the girls saw their capability from that game, came out and said we can do this.”

La Habra's Carly Richter helps lead the Lady Highlanders on the court during their 3-1 win over Sonora Thursday.

La Habra setter Carly Richter helps lead the Lady Highlanders on the court during their 3-1 win over Sonora Thursday.

Spear had high-praise for Pilkington and freshman Carly Richter, who she said are the catalysts for the team.

“Marina for sure gets us going when she is out there, and so does Carly Richter,” Spear said. “With those two paired together, it’s what keeps us going.”

Richter’s maturity and understanding of the game at such a young age has impressed her coach this season.

“Carly sees the game really well, and she has a really high volleyball IQ, she sees things that a lot of people don’t see, so we coach her up, but we also let her do her own thing out there,” Spear said. “It was funny, even the referee said, ‘wow, she really runs the show out there doesn’t she.’”

Carly Richter finished with 17 digs on the night.

Junior Taylor Richter lead the Lady Highlanders with 11 kills.

The Lady Highlanders (10-11, 4-3) took the first set 25-14 and looked to be cruising along in the second set with a 16-12 lead midway through.

However, Sonora (13-10, 3-4) roared back to tie it at 18, and then took their first lead on the next serve. La Habra fought back to tie it 22-22, but the Raiders closed out the set with three straight winners to bring the sets even.

Lad Highlander Kimberely Gamez fires one at Sonora's Sophia Kane and Arianna Gonzalez.

Lady Highlander Kimberely Gamez fires one at Sonora’s Sophia Kane and Arianna Gonzalez.

“Sometimes we let teams sneak back up and take us,” Spear said. “We still need to learn how to overcome that.”

The third set was a total back-and-forth battle. Neither team could extend more than a three-point lead until La Habra closed out the set exactly like Sonora did in the second, scoring the sets final three points for the 25-19 win.

Both teams next game will be on Tuesday. Sonora will be at Sunny Hills (14-14, 5-2) while La Habra will be back home to take on Buena Park (2-10, 0-7).

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La Habra controls home court in rivalry match

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La Habra controls home court in rivalry match

Posted on 27 September 2016 by La Habra Journal

By Jason Burch
La Habra Journal

After jumping out to an early lead only to watch it slip away in the opening set, the Lady Highlanders volleyball team bounced back to win three straight and pull off the four-set upset victory over Sonora Monday night at home.

Lady Highlanders celebrate after a score on their way to a home win against Sonora Monday.

Lady Highlanders celebrate after a score on their way to a home win against Sonora Monday.

La Habra jumped out to an early lead in front of the home crowd, outscoring the Raiders 8-2 to begin the match. After trailing 16-8 in the first, Sonora stormed back to tie it at 20, then outscored the Lady Highlanders 5-1 down the stretch to close out the set.

Coming into the game, Sonora (11-7) sported the better record and the momentum appeared to be shifting after the team’s slow start.

“I’m proud of them for not giving up after that first game,” said Adrianne Spear, La Habra head coach. “To have that 8-point lead and give it away in a matter of minutes, we knew we had to focus and eliminate the mistakes, and we did.”LHJ Guadalupe Park

However, La Habra (7-8) bounced right back to take early leads in the second and third sets and never relinquished the position.

The fourth set was back-and-forth all the way through a 12-12 tie, before La Habra pulled away with a 13-3 run to close out the match.

Sisters Victoria and Haley Rollins teamed up to dominate the net for La Habra. Victoria finished with nine kills and 11 blocks. The younger Rollins, Haley pitched in seven kills and eight blocks.

Taylor Richter, La Habra’s leading scorer this season, missed on several scoring opportunities in the first two sets, but finished strong. Richter notched five of her six kills in the third and fourth, and gave her team a boost with four aces as well.

Sophomore Ariana Gonzalez had an efficient game at the net for SLHJ Guadalupe Parkonora, finishing with eight kills and 12 blocks. Sonora Head Coach Andrew Johnson admitted afterwards that his team needs to do a better job of getting Gonzalez more scoring opportunities.

Spear was impressed with her team’s resilience and said competing against talented teams over the weekend in La Jolla without one of their top scorers, Marina Pilkington, helped boost their confidence.

“When we lost Marina, it forced us to really work together as a team,” Spear said. “I think having to figure that out this weekend really helped us a lot tonight.”

Both teams play again Wednesday night. La Habra will be at Buena Park (2-5), while Sonora will be at home taking on Sunny Hills (6-6).

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Nikki Butler: Lady Highlanders indisputable leader

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Nikki Butler: Lady Highlanders indisputable leader

Posted on 06 May 2016 by La Habra Journal

By Jason Burch
La Habra Journal

After the Lady Highlanders’ extra innings win at Sunny Hills two weeks ago, the team had all left to board the bus, but one player stayed behind gathering her gear and cleaning up the visiting dugout.

La Habra High School Catcher Nikki Butler.

La Habra High School Catcher Nikki Butler is a leader on and off the field for the Lady Highlanders. .

As she lugged her catcher’s gear into the bag, then threw it over her shoulder, Nikki Butler—who just moments prior hit the game winning home run—turned to walk away when her coach called out “oh that’s mama bear… if the girls need anything, she’s always got it.”
That moment captured the essence of what Butler means to the La Habra softball team.
Introducing her with the standard athlete denotation—you know, the team, position and name, followed by some recycled superlatives—wouldn’t properly capture her impact on the Lady Highlanders. Sure, she is all of the above. But Butler is more than just La Habra’s catcher. She is the team’s quintessential leader off the field and a maestro behind the plate.
So what’s a leader off the field look like?
Before the coaches arrive for a Monday practice, Butler takes the junior varsity team and runs them through the drills they will be doing for the day. Next, she rounds up the Lady Highlanders varsity squad for a team jog around the track. By the time the coaches arrive, both teams are already off and running into their respective drills.
On the field, Butler handles a talented group of pitchers and anchors a solid defense.
Butler calls pitches and directs the defense like a conductor would an orchestra. To truly appreciate Butler’s mastery behind the plate, you must first understand her trailblazing coach.
All coaches draw up gameplans, but Steve Harrington elevates it to an artform, orchestrating strategies like a composer. For over two decades, Harrington’s inimitable system and coaching style demanded that he called all in-game strategies from the dugout.
Astonishingly, Butler began picking up Harrington’s system within the first couple months, prompting him to do things a little differently.

Lady Highlander's Nikki Butler helps coach the La Habra JV team before their practice.

Lady Highlander’s Nikki Butler helps coach the La Habra JV team before their practice.

You see, Butler became a student of the game at a young age thanks to her dad Craig, who also played the position. She has been working on her skills behind the plate for 13 years with him.
“My dad always taught me to just go with the flow, and I really liked it,” she said about playing catcher. “My dad has taught me everything I know, I have never been to a catching coach.”
She said that her travel-ball coaches and now Harrington have helped put the finishing touches on her game.
Though Butler and Harrington have a symbiotic relationship now, the two had their differences early on.
Harrington was impressed with Butler’s confidence and knowledge of the game from day-one, but those same attributes,which he loved, made it difficult for her to fully embrace his system.
“Nikki is a very confident girl and she really has a wealth of experience,” Harrington said. “She sees the game pretty well and she is coming off doing it the way it’s been done the past three years, but that system doesn’t work for me.”
The chasm came to a head rather quickly.
“So I’m sitting here implementing my system—which I know works—and she [was] trying to integrate some components from the other system, and that is when we butted heads,” Harrington explained. “I flat out told her, ‘A, you can figure out how to run my system and forget about that other one; or B, you can get out of here and play travel ball.’”Butler
Many players in her shoes, who have had lots of success and received scholarship offers, would have looked at Harrington sideways, holding the mindset of, what can he possibly teach me, I already know how to play the game.
Butler took the ultimatum like a challenge. Deep down she knew that it was an opportunity to take her game to the next level. So Butler quickly became a pupil of Harrington’s system.
“She started asking a lot of questions,” Harrington said. “Then one day at practice I noticed she was taking notes on her cellphone.”
Harrington said there are still times when she will ask him what to do in certain situations, but for the most part Butler now orchestrates the games autonomously behind the plate.
“Sometimes he can just give me a look in certain situations during a game and I know that we are thinking the same thing,” Butler said.
Butler said that learning from Harrington the past few months has elevated her game and better prepared her for the collegiate level.
“It definitely gets complicated, as a hitter against him and as a player for him, you don’t know what he is going to come with, so you just have to have an open mind,” Butler said.
Butler’s aptitude on the diamond turned out to be a perfect union with Harrington’s complex system.
“He [Harrington] always comes to games prepared with a plan of what he is going to do when we play a specific team or coach,” Butler said. “He is definitely different when it comes to shifting the defense, you can never fall back on your heels in any game, but I feel like with him, you wouldn’t ever come close to it because you really don’t know what he is going to come at you with.”
Immediately after the Lady Highlanders beat Mater Dei to win the Woodbridge Tournament, Harrington felt Butler had figured it out and commented on how impressed he was with her ability to handle the game from behind the plate.
The Lady Highlanders have two of the top pitchers in Orange County in Janelle Rodriguez and Hannah Johnson. Their success rides on Butler’s ability to call the right pitches in the right situations and keep them locked into the game.
Rodriguez said that Butler’s confidence behind the plate and her initiative to take control of a game is what sets her apart.
“Sometimes I don’t even know what she is going to call, because she likes to mix it up and doesn’t want to throw the same pitch every single time, she wants to understand the batter,” Rodriguez said. “We will talk between innings and figure out how we want to pitch certain batters.”
Rodriguez also feels Butler’s ability to put the game in perspective has helped her a lot, especially when she gets in tough situations.
“I just remember her telling me one time, ‘it’s just for the fun of it and not a yes we are going to college for it, but… just have fun with it,’’ Rodriguez said. “She is really loud behind the plate and that’s what I like, in between pitches we’ll say ‘ok we got this’ and we know our game plan.”
Besides implementing the game plan and getting the most out of La Habra’s talented pitching staff, Butler also plays the position extremely well.
Baserunners haven’t stood a chance trying to run on her. On the season, Butler has only allowed one stolen base.
“Some teams don’t even try [to steal],” said Richard Flores, La Habra assistant coach. “And if they do, they get thrown out, she really takes that avenue away.”
Flores, who has been coaching at La Habra with Butler all four years, wasn’t surprised by how well Butler picked up her new coach’s system.
“Nikki grew up playing catcher, she studied the game and absorbed it” Flores said. “She really is the maestro of the defense.”
In addition to her defensive mastery, Butler also plays a pivotal role for the Lady Highlanders offense. She is one of the team’s top run producers, batting in the middle of the lineup.
Opposing teams have taken notice of Butler’s prowess with the bat as well. In critical situations she has been pitched around and intentionally walked.
Sunny Hills tried to do so a couple weeks ago, but that didn’t deter Butler from seizing the moment. Instead of standing there with the bat on her shoulder waiting to be walked, Butler stepped into one of the pitchouts and launched a home run over the center field fence, lifting the Highlanders to an extra innings win.
Her ability to lead the team and orchestrate the new system has helped the team put together a record season thus far. The Lady Highlanders are 22-1 overall, 6-0 in league and have now won 19 straight games.
Butler feels the Lady Highlanders transformation this season is a reflection of Harrington’s approach, which has been an equal mixture of discipline, gameplan and preparation.
Butler said that the team’s goal at this point is to finish out league strong and then focus on winning a CIF Championship.
She and Harrington are both confident that the Lady Highlanders have the talent and tools to do it this season, but know they have a lot of work to do before that happens.
In April, Butler officially signed her letter of intent to play softball at New Mexico State University. She said the overwhelming support from the community in New Mexico was strikingly similar to La Habra, which made choosing the Land of Enchantment a surprisingly easy decision.
“It was kind of a love at first sight thing, it totally shocked me how much I liked [New Mexico State],” Butler said. “The coaches, the girls and everything is so family oriented, going out there would be like my home away from home.”
Butler said she is looking forward to playing for the Aggies and studying criminal justice.
For now, Butler will continue to focus on helping the Lady Highlanders continue on one of their best  seasons ever.

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Lady Highlanders crowned champs over Mater Dei

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Lady Highlanders crowned champs over Mater Dei

Posted on 03 April 2016 by La Habra Journal

By Jason Burch
La Habra Journal

After notching a complete game against Villa Park in the semifinals, Hannah Johnson tossed three scoreless innings in relief, helping the Lady Highlanders hang on for the 6-5 win over Mater Dei in the championship game of the Alan Dugard Softball Classic Tournament.LHHS SOFTBALL CHAMPIONSHIP_Web

The No. 4 team in California, Mater Dei didn’t go away quietly on Saturday night. With runners on second and third and two down in the seventh, closer Harley Wells fielded a comebacker cleanly and fired the ball to first base, picking up the save and the title for La Habra.

Head Coach Steve Harrington was impressed with how his team responded to adversity against one of the top teams in California, especially in such a high pressure situation, which he admitted La Habra had never experienced before.

“That’s kind of our mantra, to be resilient and these kids demonstrated that today,” Harrington said. “They had a great deal of heart when their back was against the wall and they didn’t start ripping at each other, they started praising each other.”

Harrington said he knew playing Mater Dei was going to be tough until the final out.

“Number one they are a fantastic team, they are well coached, they are good people and good kids,” Harrington said. “I know some of those kids, they are good players, so we knew this was going to be a battle back and forth.”

The end couldn’t come soon enough for the Lady Highlanders, who had to play back to back games totalling over four hours of play that began at 5:15 p.m.

The Lady Highlanders got on the board in early, scoring their first run in the second inning on a RBI single from Nikki Butler.

The rest of the offensive action for both teams happened in the third.

La Habra added to their lead with five more runs, all coming with two outs in the top half of the inning. With the bases loaded, starting pitcher Janelle Rodriguez lined a two-run single into the outfield. Butler came up big again with a bases clearing double to the right-centerfield gap, giving her 3 RBI in the game.

After replacing starter Gabrielle Sandoval, relief pitcher Danielle Kahn hit the first batter she faced, then allowed an infield single that brought home the final run.

Mater Dei surged back into the game in the bottom half of the inning, scoring four of their five runs. The first two came on a squeeze bunt. Rodriguez fielded the ball quickly and underhanded it to Butler, who blocked the plate and applied the tag a hair late. The second run scored on Butler’s throw to second. The Lady Monarchs added two more before Rodriguez settled down to retire the final out in the inning.

Harrington said that he didn’t get frustrated, instead he tried to encourage his team reminding them they had a big lead, not to dwell on the mistakes.

“The last thing a kid needs is for you to yell at her and tell her what she already knows,” he said.

Rodriguez was cruising along until the uncharacteristically sloppy inning, finishing with 2 earned runs and 4 strikeouts in just 3 innings.

“I was hoping that mentally the way we prepare, the way we play, that we would be able to weather that storm and rather than get caught up in the hype of it all,” Harrington said.

Johnson picked up her second win of the day, going 3 innings with 2 strikeouts. She also tossed a complete game against Villa Park, racking up 9 strikeouts. Johnson was credited with an unearned run in the seventh, after the throw from shortstop on the would be third out sailed wide of first base.

Wells inherited a high-leverage situation, entering in the bottom of the seventh with two on and no out. However, despite the throwing error, Wells proved up for the task and handled the pressure well.

Rodriguez and Frankie Mendoza each hit a solo home run against Villa Park earlier in the day.

La Habra (16-1), the No. 3 team in California has now won 13 straight. Mater Dei (16-3) had won their previous seven coming into the title game.

The Lady Highlanders start Freeway League play April 12 at Sonora.

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La Habra  hitting the links with first girls golf team

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La Habra hitting the links with first girls golf team

Posted on 20 August 2015 by La Habra Journal

By Shanin Thomas
La Habra Journal

The La Habra High School Highlanders will field their first women’s golf team for the 2015 season.
Last year, La Habra High School created a women’s golf club in preparation of creating a competitive team for this upcoming fall season.

2015 LHHS Girls Golf Team

2015 LHHS Girls Golf Team

About 15 girls joined the club with little to no experience but lots of enthusiasm and interest.
Head Coach Cody Verdugo said that most of the girls had never played before. “Only three girls had golf clubs, but at least 10 took a liking to golf. I am very pleased with the growth we have seen,” he said.
The golf club at La Habra High School included instructions for the basics of the sport. Not only did the girls in the club learn to hit a plastic golf ball in the football stadium, Coach Verdugo also taught the girls golf etiquette.
“Golf is like an onion. There are layers to the sport. It is not just about hitting the golf ball,” Verdugo said.

Interest in girls golf has not only sparked at La Habra High School but in other Freeway League schools as well.
Fullerton, Sunny Hills and Buena Park have decided to field a girls golf team this season. They will join Troy, which already had a team in place.

Troy High School will be the most competitive women’s golf team this upcoming season because they previously fielded a girls’ golf team and have competitive returners.

Mandy Arriola finishes a swing during practice.  The lefty looks to help lead the Lady Highlanders during their inaugural season.

Mandy Arriola finishes a swing during practice. The lefty looks to help lead the Lady Highlanders during their inaugural season.

In fact, last season Troy’s women’s team ranked No. 1 in Orange County, No. 3 in the CIF Southern Section, and No. 5 in the state of California.

Preseason will begin in late August and league competition will start on Sept. 13.
For Verdugo, the decision to move from being on the coaching staff of La Habra Football to take up the challenge of starting a girls golf team was to follow his passion.

Verdugo fell in love with the sport of golf in his senior year of college at Chapman University. Although he has played football his entire life, golf has become a sport he has become passionate about.
Additionally, Verdugo’s son and three daughters have also taken a liking to the sport and participate competitively as golfers.

Coach Verdugo proved his coaching ability last season as the La Habra men’s golf team finished eighth in the Southern division, the best finish in the school’s history. The Whittier Daily News honored Verdugo as 2015 Coach of the Year.

The amount of money invested in women’s golf college scholarships is another reason Coach Verdugo has created a women’s golf team to accompany the men’s team.

Although the growth rate of participation of women has almost tripled men in the last few years, women still make up less than 25 percent of golfers, according to athleticscholarships.net.

According to scholarshipstats.com, in 2014 the number of male high school golfers is double the amount of female golfers. However, Division I universities offer six scholarships to female golfers as opposed to the four and a half to male golfers.

Alyssa Heidrich takes a swing during practice.

Alyssa Heidrich takes a swing during practice.

That growth rate was shown during the first day of La Habra’s women’s golf tryouts Wednesday afternoon at Westridge Golf Club.

Twelve returners from the golf club were present as well as eight additional girls. The additional girls who showed up at tryouts did not know much golf etiquette, but they were athletic, Coach Verdugo said.

“It would be rare for someone to show up and be completely ready,” Verdugo said.

Coach Verdugo is looking to field a team between 15 and 20 girls. Although only seven players compete in a match for both varsity and junior varsity, 20 girls is a good number to manage girls who are still developing their skills as golfers, he said.

“Returners will be the foundation of the varsity team,” Coach Verdugo said.

The Lady Highlanders hit the links for the first time on September 9 against Empire League champion Valencia at Alta Vista Country Club in Placentia at 4 p.m.

 

2015 Lady Highlander Golf Team Roster

Mandy Arriola
Alex Barber
Nikki Chamberlain
Kira Cauley
Alyssa Enriquez
Haylee Enriquez
Alyssa Heidrich
Aurora Heuermann
Charlotte Irirzarry
Samantha Parr
Janet Romero
Julia Sanchez
Jena Schuh
Dominique Tosunian
Galina Tressler
Frankie Valencia

LHJ LHHS Girls Golf 2015

Coach Cody Verdugo gets the team ready for its first season.

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Lady Highlanders  refreshed and ready

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Lady Highlanders refreshed and ready

Posted on 05 August 2015 by La Habra Journal

By Shanin Thomas
La Habra Journal

The La Habra High School Lady Highlanders have adjusted as a team and coaching staff while looking forward to a new, competitive season.

Volleyball CIF 2nd Round 2014

Volleyball CIF 2nd Round 2014

Head Coach Adrianne Spear referred to the program, new coaches, and varsity team as “exciting.”
“We have some young, new additions that bring some depth to the team,” she said. “But I can tell the team is just a bunch of fighters. I am excited to see what they can do.”
Spear said there were quite a few girls at the training camp this summer; And she said some unexpected players brought talent to tryouts this year.
With a handful of her team graduating after last season, Spear said was able to carefully choose her fairly, young varsity team soon after.
“Now it is just a matter of me putting the pieces together,” she said.
After taking second in the Freeway League last season, the Lady Highlanders are looking to build on that success with new members of the team.
Although there are seven returners, the team is suffering a big loss of two middles and a setter.
Spear also has to work around a couple of injuries.
Marisa Spear, outside hitter and defensive specialist, has just began practicing again after knee surgery and Kimberly Gamez, also an outside hitter, is quickly healing from a broken bone in her foot.
Fortunately, Senior Casey Lunceford had experience in the setter position last season and is expected to lead the team this year.
She is solid all the way around, Coach Spear said of Lunceford. “I expect her to lead on and off the court.”
Marisa Spear, senior, and Marina Pilkington, junior, are also expected to be experienced leaders in a competitive league.
Spear said this year the freeway league will be highly competitive.
“We have a strong league with strong teams,” she said. “It will be interesting,” she said. “Troy, Fullerton, and Sonora will be tough. Sunny Hills and Buena Park will also be competitive.”
Some changes have been made in the coaching staff for this upcoming season. Janisa Johnson is expected to be the assistant coach for the varsity team. Johnson is a volleyball alumnus from Long Beach State and is heading into her professional career.
According to Spear, Johnson has great experience and training. “She brings something different to the team.”
More changes in the coaching staff continue on the junior varsity level. Roxanne Sahagian has been given the opportunity to use her passion and personality to help the JV volleyball team to victory.
Furthermore, two players from La Serna High School have transferred over to compete for the Lady Highlanders varsity team this season.
The Highlanders first match is against Brea Olinda High School on Sept. 3 and Freeway League competition begins the first week of October.
“It can be any one’s game this year and it has not been like that in a while,” Spear said. “I expect my team to play hard and leave it out on the court every time.”

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Lady Highlanders dominate in opener

Posted on 14 January 2015 by La Habra Journal

By Sarah Fenton
La Habra Journal

The La Habra girls’ soccer team won its first Freeway league game against Buena Park, 7-0, at home Tuesday afternoon.

LHJ LHHS vs BHHS Gsoc_0934_
“In league every game matters, so we knew we had to play hard,” said La Habra head coach Matt Sanger. “We wanted to start off strong and send a message to our league that we are here to win it.”
The Lady Highlanders (3-6-1, 1-0) took turns scoring and dominated the Coyotes (2-10-1, 0-1) on both offense and defense the whole game.
“We worked on possession and we got to work on some of our set plays,” Sanger said. “It’s not so much this game that we’re looking at, we’ve been preparing for the season to start. In preseason we got to try some things out and we got to test things.”
La Habra took an early lead in the 6th minute with an assist from Taleah Carter to Sarah Wieland who finished the play.
The Highlanders took control of the first half and maintained possession of the ball in Buena Park territory but had trouble finishing their shots.LHJ LHHS vs BHHS Gsoc_0428_
“We have a lot of young players and with young players you have inconsistencies so what we need is our young players to get more experience and to start playing more confidently,” Sanger said.
Late in the first half the Highlanders advanced their lead to 2-0 with help from Alexis Morales. The Highlanders held the lead over Buena Park going into halftime.
La Habra came out fighting in the second half.
“For the second half we went back to our game plan of playing simple, moving the ball quickly, and not getting stuck,” Sanger said. “We tried to play a more simple game and we found spaces and we were able to attack a lot more.” LHJ LHHS vs BHHS Gsoc_0496_
The Highlanders sco quickly with an early goal off a corner kick tapped in by Darriell Franklin to advance the lead to 3-0.
Minutes later, La Habra found another scoring opportunity when the ball got loose in front of Buena Park’s goal. The ball bounced around in front of the goal and the Highlanders tapped it in before the Coyotes could clear it out.
The Highlanders kept pushing the ball forward and Chloey Cooksey scored two consecutive goals from left field to advance their lead to 6-0 over the Coyotes.
In the final minutes of the game, Regina Sanchez added one more point to the scoreboard by tapping in a corner kick from Wieland. LHJ LHHS vs BHHS Gsoc_0920_
“A game like this might look like we played a perfect game when you look at the score but we have a lot of things we have to fix,” Sanger said. “Mostly it’s just little mistakes.”
With their first Freeway league win under their belt, the Highlanders will travel to Fullerton and take on the Indians Wednesday afternoon.
“I think we did a much better job in the second half,” Sanger said. “The biggest thing for us is our intensity. We have to bring a high level of intensity no matter who we play. Any team in this league can be dangerous so we need to make sure that we come prepared.”

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Palm Springs knocks Lady Highlanders out of playoffs

Posted on 15 November 2014 by La Habra Journal

By Sarah Fenton
La Habra Journal

 

La Habra’s breakthrough season came to an end as they fell to Palm Springs, 3-0, in the second round of CIF playoffs at home Thursday night.

Volleyball CIF 2nd Round 2014

After a close first set, the Indians took control and dominated the last two sets, 26-4, 25-10, 25-14, to secure the win.

 

“We came in with big hearts wanting to play big and we came in wanting to win the game, but we were outsized,” said La Habra head coach Adrianne Spear. “They have a number of kids that can hit the ball.”

 

Palm Springs went undefeated in the Desert Valley league and defeated Walnut, 3-0, in the first round of playoffs.

 

The Highlanders (22-9) swept Oak Hills in the first round of playoffs, but Palm Springs’ hitters kept La Habra from advancing to the third round.

 

“The second round is when you start seeing the big teams and it is what it is,” Spear said. “We played hard. We broke down a lot, a lot more than I expected, and we just couldn’t recover tonight.”

 

The score in the first set was kept close as both teams took turns adding points to the board.Volleyball CIF 2nd Round 2014

 

Down by one, Palm Springs (23-5) went on a 3-0 run at the end of the first set to give them the lead, 23-21.

 

The Highlanders responded with their own 3-0 run to regain the lead, 24-23, but the Indians regained control to close out the set, 26-24.

 

The close first set woke up the Indians who quickly took the lead in the second set with a 4-0 run.

 

Leading 8-4, Palm Springs went on a 12-0 run to advance their score to 20-4.

 

The Highlanders tried to come back but couldn’t make up the 16-point deficit before falling to the Indians, 25-10.

 

La Habra came out fighting in the third set and was first to put points on the board.

 

The Highlanders took an early 4-3 lead over the Indians, but faced a setback after Palm Springs took the lead with a 7-0 run.

 

La Habra fought to regain the lead, but the Indians kept control of the score to finish the set 25-14.Volleyball CIF 2nd Round 2014

 

“They played hard and they never gave up,” Spear said. “I’m proud of them for making it to the second round and for putting up a good fight. I can’t ask for anything more from these kids.”

 

The Highlanders finished their breakthrough season with an 8-2 record in the Freeway league, their best since 2007.

 

“I think they played outstanding throughout the whole season and I couldn’t ask for a better group of kids,” Spear said. “They were a joy to coach this year and I’m proud of them.”

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Lady Highlanders sweep into second round

Posted on 12 November 2014 by La Habra Journal

By Sarah Fenton
La Habra Journal

 

The La Habra girl’s volleyball team swept Oak Hills in the first round of CIF playoffs at home Tuesday night.

 

“I’m so proud of them, and to be able to take them in three and come back from a deficit in game three, they did what they needed to do,” coach Spear said. “I can count on these kids to always fight.”Web_LH_LHJ WCHS_LHHS_Vball__0424

 

The Highlanders’ sweep over the Bulldogs (25-19, 25-19, 25-22) advances them to the second round of playoffs where they will face Palm Springs on Thursday.

 

“As a whole we wanted to make sure we got to the second round of playoffs,” said La Habra head coach Adrianne Spear. “They were pumped since this morning and they came in and they did what they needed to do.”

 

Alexis Kolschefski led the Highlanders with a match-high 13 kills and eight blocks and Ryana Murch followed with eight kills.

 

“Coach Adrianne always says we’re like a machine, everybody has to be working as hard as the next person so that’s what was going through our heads,” said Kolschefski. “We play for the person next to us and we’re all a family. We don’t want to let anybody down.”

 

The start of the first set was back and forth with scoring until the Highlanders went on an 8-0 run to give them a five-point lead over Oak Hills, 20-15.

 

The Bulldogs (15-12) tried to get the points back before the end of the set, but La Habra’s defense kept them from taking the lead.

 

The momentum carried over into the second set for the Highlanders.

 

“In the second set I was thinking, here’s that machine, that well-oiled machine and they stayed on that track for a long time,” coach Spear said. “They were able to fix the small mistakes that they made and that’s what this team is good at doing.”

 

La Habra took an early lead at the start of the second set, but Oak Hills came back with a 5-0 run to give them a two point lead over the Highlanders, 10-8.

 

The Highlanders quickly retaliated with their own 5-0 run to regain the lead 14-11.

 

Both teams went back and forth with scoring until the Highlanders went on another 5-0 run to take the set, 25-19.

 

“We went into the third game knowing that we weren’t going to take it easily,” coach Spear said. “Our passing broke down a little bit but we were able to recover and go from there.”

 

Oak Hills was first to put points on the board in the third set and stayed in the lead for the majority of the set until the highlanders until the Highlanders went on a 4-0 run at the end of the set to give them a two point lead.

 

La Habra used that momentum to finish the set and secure the sweep over the Bulldogs.

 

“We’re going to work on some out of system plays before the next game, but I also want them to rest,” coach Spear said.

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Unstoppable Hope

Posted on 13 August 2014 by La Habra Journal

La Habra’s Hope Moreno looks  toward success on the next level

By Luke Wilson
La Habra Journal

Hope Moreno is one of the most dedicated softball players to have come through La Habra High School.LHHS_SHS Moreno_1 copy
However, if you ask anyone who has seen her play, or better yet heard her, then you’ll know that she is undoubtedly one of the best leaders and communicators that the Lady Highlanders’ Field has ever seen.
When asked how she got to where she is now in the world of softball, she quickly answered, “Practice.”
Unlike most softball and baseball players, who talk about their regime of how to get better at the plate, Moreno gets the most excited about a different facet of the game.

Player Spotlight: Hope Moreno Video

“I could seriously take ground balls all day,” she explained.
That sort of attention to the tough and oft-ignored defensive side of the ball describes Hope in more ways than one.
To be a defensive specialist at second base and at the position fondly dubbed, “the Hot Corner,” is no simple task.
Another reason that she loves defense, is the communication involved with it. Here communication on the field is something she became known for at La Habra.
“I have to talk,” Moreno said. “People are like, ‘If you don’t talk, it’s kind of weird seeing you play.’”
That sort of on-field communication is something that you’ll hear coaches stress in every sport on a daily basis, but its importance is sometimes missed due to a greater attention to improving stats.
As a four-year varsity starter, and a two-year captain, Hope knows that the other girls listen and watch her, and when she’s as vocal as she is, it helps keep their unit even more cohesive.LHHS_SHS Moreno_2 copy
“Being a leader to me is where I feel like you can always have the younger girls come to you,” she explained. “You’re always keeping people in the game, you’re talking constantly with everyone, making sure the team is together. It’s a hard job honestly.”
That ability to stand out in a game, and have her presence not only heard, but felt allowed her to get recruited by some of the nation’s top softball programs. However, not as quickly as Hope might have liked.
An unspoken part of the recruitment process from high school to college is that it is all about who you know, and playing for a top caliber school. Moreno explained that she had to work for the attention that she received.
“I didn’t get recruited until my junior year,” she explained. “A lot of people were getting recruited their freshman and sophomore years.”
The first school that managed to bring her in for a visit was Portland State.
“I saw them at a tournament in Vegas. I had never heard of them,” she admitted. “I talked to the coach, then she came out and saw me play. It all happened really quick.”
After visiting the campus, Hope said she fell in love with the Portland area campus. In January of her junior year she verbally committed to play there.
However, things took a different twist later that year.  Hope received some startling news.
“I got a call in April, saying that the head coach and the assistant. coach are going to UTEP [the University of Texas at El Paso],” she said. “I was kind of scared.”
After receiving reassurances from the new coaches at each school that they still wanted her talents, Hope decided to give UTEP a visit.
West Texas is vastly different from the Pacific Northwest.  In addition, UTEP played in a more competitive conference, so the level of play would be higher from day one.
She compared everything from schooling possibilities, to coaches, to campuses.
Her desire to study nursing was a large part of her decision on what school to attend. It also helps explain her desire to help others on and off the field.
After some consideration, her decision was very clear. LHJ Hope Moreno__31
“Times ten,” she explained how much she loved UTEP. Not long after, she was officially a UTEP Miner.
What was it like for Moreno to sign after such an arduous process?
“It was a sigh of relief,” she said. “I was extremely excited. I was like, ‘Can I do it already? Can I tell them?’”
However, despite all the excitement of the decision, taking the next step and playing at a higher level at a place  far from where she has spent 18 years of her life is a big step.
This will be Hope’s first time living away from La Habra. She explained that she knows that she will get a little homesick. Luckily, she will have plenty to keep her busy in El Paso.
Hope is looking forward to the new challenge and excited about playing with her new team mates.
With her dedication to the game and her drive to help others, there is no doubt that she will quickly become an integral part of UTEP team   and help lead the Miners to success.

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