Watching the Burroughs High girls’ volleyball team play this past season, there was no doubt how much the play of senior outside hitter Megan Stephenson meant to the Indians.
The same was apparent across town at Bellarmine-Jefferson, where senior outside hitter Jocelyn Cervantes stood out as the leader for the Guards.
Behind their talented performers, both the Indians and Guards captured league championships during the 2011 campaign.
The value of the two players wasn’t lost on the coaches from their respective leagues, as both garnered their league’s top honor. While Stephenson was named the Pacific League Player of the Year, Cervantes was honored as the Santa Cruz League Player of the Year.
Stephenson and Cervantes not only put up big numbers and helped their squads win crucial matches, but both were also called upon to be leaders of their teams.
Cervantes, who earned her second straight player-of-the-year honor, had to overcome the struggle of having to rely on a new setter this season. The setter had trouble providing quality sets for the senior early in the campaign.
“Her and her setter started getting things together toward the end of the season,” Bell-Jeff Coach Miguel Segura said of Cervantes. “She had some struggles and it was hard for her early on. But she never gave up, battled to get through it, kept playing and put the team on her back.”
Cervantes — a two-time All-CIF Southern Section pick — ended what turned out to be a fine four-year career for the Guards. This past season, she tallied 295 kills, 51 aces, 173 digs and 18 blocks. In her four years at Bell-Jeff, Cervantes tallied 1,026 kills and 217 aces.
During her tenure, Bell-Jeff won four straight league titles, posted a 66-25-2 record, advanced to the playoff quarterfinals twice, the semifinals once and the Division IV-A championship in 2009.
“We’re really, really proud of what she’s done at Bell-Jeff,” Segura said. “She has been a star for us for these four years. She is definitely one of the best who has ever played here.”
Making the Santa Cruz all-league first team was senior outside hitter Taryn Nelson, sophomore middle Samantha Casarez and sophomore setter Amanda Maalouf.
Nelson had 171 kills, 64 aces, 121 digs and 22 assists.
Bell-Jeff (14-7-2) advanced to the CIF Division IV-A quarterfinals, losing to No. 1-seeded Hemet, 21-25, 25-16, 25-27, 25-14,15-8.
The Indians (19-4) also had a successful season with Stephenson leading the way. Burroughs went undefeated in the Pacific League at 14-0, winning its first crown in four years.
Burroughs Coach Edwin Real said their was little debate with the league coaches about who would win this year’s top individual honor.
“There really wasn’t that much talk at all,” Real said. “Megan was just dominating in league and she was pretty much unstoppable. I think the other coaches could see what she could do on the court.”
Stephenson had 337 kills and averaged 16 kills at match. In addition, she tallied 117 digs and 27 aces.
“Whenever we needed a point or we needed a big play we went to Megan,” Real said. “And she usually came through.”
Also making the all-league first team for the Indians was senior setter Catarina Emerson and senior libero Victoria Santos. Emerson had 311 assists and Santos had 134 digs.
Named on the second team was junior middle Laura Howard (118 kills and 68 aces) and senior outside hitter Angie Rojas. Senior Tessa Dudley was an honorable-mention pick.
Burbank (12-6), which placed third in the Pacific League, had four players earn all-league accolades.
The lone first-teamer was junior middle Stephanie Eskander. Eskander tallied 189 kills, 56 aces and 44 blocks.
Junior libero Stephanie Lin (202 digs) and junior setter Tyler Brooks (329 assists, 60 kills and 41 aces) were named to the second team. Senior middle Reily Brennan was an honorable-mention pick.
Providence (8-11), which placed third in the Liberty League, had two all-league selections in junior setter Janel Adraneda and senior outside hitter Thalia Alvarez.