Two years ago, Palisades High won the first two games of the City Section girls' volleyball finals, only to lose the last three to Van Nuys.
This time, the Dolphins didn't let their opponent off the hook, finishing off Granada Hills, 25-19, 25-13, 18-25, 25-19, to win their 22nd City title -- their first since 1999 -- on Friday at Occidenal College.
Allison Houpt led third-seeded Palisades (16-1) with 13 kills, and Anne Marie Barrette and Natasha Vokhshoori each added six.
"We just tried to play our game, play it smart and make the right adjustments," said Palisades setter Diana Grubb, who finished with 28 assists, three kills and two aces. "After losing the third game, we got fired up. We knew it wasn't going to come easy."
Houpt used two six-point serving runs to give the Dolphins a commanding lead, and they eventually won on a lift call against Highlander Stephanie Takamatsu. Another lift call on Lana Wilhelm gave Palisades a two-game advantage.
Kelley Kaplan led the fourth-seeded Highlanders (15-2) with 16 kills, three aces and two blocks. Wilhelm added eight kills for Granada Hills, which took a 13-6 lead en route to winning the third game.
"In the first two games, they beat us on tipping," Kaplan said.
"It wasn't so much on hitting. We didn't really pass well enough to win. That was a major problem on our part."
Stephanie Vaughan used crisp cross-court serves to turn a 5-4 deficit into a 12-5 lead in the fourth game for Palisades. And the Dolphins never looked back.
In the City Invitational final, third-seeded Verdugo Hills upset top-seeded Chatsworth, 25-19, 26-24, 25-22.
Torrance Bishop Montgomery def. Corona del Mar, 25-21, 25-17, 28-26 -- This was supposed to be a rebuilding year for the girls' volleyball team at Torrance Bishop Montgomery, but the strong competition it faced in the rugged Serra League combined with its assignment to a very weak playoff division worked in its favor in the Southern Section Division III-A championship match.
Bishop Montgomery received 18 kills from sophomore Ashley Ferrell and good efforts all around to sweep Corona del Mar at Cypress College. It is the second consecutive section title and seventh since 1992 for the Knights (24-8), who begin defense of their state Division III title next week.
Coach Kim Willeman said Corona del Mar (21-9) was the toughest playoff opponent Bishop Montgomery had faced. The Knights finished second in a league that included Santa Ana Mater Dei and Santa Margarita, both competing in other section finals today.
Some of the troubles for Corona del Mar (21-9) had to do with the Knights' ability to cover up and block, but Bishop Montgomery did benefit time and again from unforced errors
The Knights were only in trouble once, late in the final game, when Corona del Mar took a 22-19 lead. But three crucial hitting errors by Corona del Mar helped Bishop Montgomery take a 24-23 lead and eventually the match point, when Corona del Mar was called for a net violation.
Los Angeles Marymount def. L.A. Notre Dame Academy 25-15, 25-17, 23-25, 25-19 -- The only surprise in the Southern Section Division IV-AA final at Cypress College was that the Sailors (31-1) lost a game to the Regals (22-8), whom they defeated twice in Sunshine League play.
Marymount, which won its third consecutive section title, entered the playoffs No. 1 in Southern California in The Times' rankings.
Sue Carls led the way for the Sailors with 17 kills and eight blocks. Stesha Selsky added 14 kills and Jamie Kaufman had 12 kills.
-- Paul McLeod