Early in the season, it seemed as though the La Cañada High girls' volleyball team couldn't catch a break.
Its two top players — Micaela Anderson and Kendall Walbrecht — missed multiple matches because of injuries and the Spartans were forced to scramble with many lineup adjustments. When the seniors recovered from their injuries, they proved to be the lethal 1-2 punch that the Spartans expected.
They proved their significance on the court, as Anderson and Walbrecht were named the All-Rio Hondo League’s co-Most Valuable Players.
“Going into the season, we knew what our strengths would be and there was an emphasis by the other teams in trying to block both of them,” said La Cañada Coach Brock Turner, whose team finished 19-12, 10-0 in league for first place before advancing to the CIF Southern Section Division II-AA semifinals. “They played all the way around and held their own.
“We missed them not being in the lineup, but we had other players step in. They were both fantastic players and they brought something different to the team.”
The Rutgers-bound Anderson finished with 385 kills, 153 digs, 44 aces and 27 blocks.
Anderson, who shared the honor last season, said winning the award again was a goal before the season began.
“I went out there trying to just do my best and the coaches from around our league recognized me,” Anderson said. “It’s a great feeling to share it with Kendall because she’s one of the best players I’ve been around.
“I improved my leadership skills in order to help the team. When I was a freshman, the seniors then showed how to lead and I just tried to follow.”
The UC Davis-bound Walbrecht, who was an all-league first-team honoree last season, registered 332 kills, 165 digs, 33 aces and 27 blocks.
Walbrecht said she received plenty of quality passes and sets in order to provide the Spartans with another go-to option.
“They are the reason why I put up good numbers,” Walbrecht said. “With Micaela, we understand each other and our strengths.
“It’s a huge honor to be co-MVP and I’m happy to share it with Micaela. It’s been great to be able to play alongside her these last four years.”
La Cañada sophomore libero Loren Shin was named to the first team. Shin finished with 297 digs and 23 aces.
“Loren was the type of person who worked extra hard in practice,” Turner said. “There’s a bunch of pressure being the primary passer and then getting hits.”
Sophomore setter Leigh Sclafani and senior defensive specialist Megan Swartzlander were named to the second team. Sclafani finished with 926 assists, 118 digs and 24 aces. Swartzlander notched 191 digs and 41 aces.
“For her first year, Leigh did a very good job setting up Micaela and Kendall,” said Turner, whose team defeated Paramount, Arroyo Grande and fourth-seeded Oaks Christian before falling to eventual champion Martin Luther King in the CIF semifinals. “Megan did a lot of things well and she was one of our more consistent passers and top defenders.”
Senior middle blocker Lauren Streeter and senior opposite hitter Katie Pierce received honorable mention. Streeter had 158 kills and 50 blocks. Pierce contributed 61 kills.