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Los Amigos girls’ volleyball swept by Santiago in home opener

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Los Amigos’ Rebecca Le spikes the ball against Santiago during the second set of a Garden Grove League match at home Tuesday.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

Renovations to the Los Amigos High gymnasium will not be completed until after fall sports have come to a close.

A new court has been installed, but the gym remains without bleachers.

Los Amigos athletic director Chris Sandro felt that regardless of that dilemma, he wanted the seniors to have a chance to play at home in their last year at the school.

For the first time this year, the Los Amigos girls’ volleyball team played at home, and even without bleachers, there were spectators spread throughout the gym on Tuesday night.

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Santiago spoiled the home opener, which was also the first match of Garden Grove League play for both teams.

Outside hitter Lineni Tuitupou paced the visiting Cavaliers with eight kills, and Santiago defeated Los Amigos 25-18, 25-15, 25-22.

“Everybody [was] just hanging out,” Lobos coach Valerie Herndon said of the crowd. “We love the new gym, and we’re glad we’re back in it, but I think all the girls were a little nervous just coming back. That’s all right. We’ll kick it back up.”

Herndon added that it was important that players that had stuck with the program their whole high school career get the opportunity to enjoy the refurbished facility.

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“I think that was really important,” she said. “I think especially for some of the girls who have been here for all four years, just to experience and have something nice and new was important. We’re proud of it, so that’s good.”

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Los Amigos’ Jasmine Torres hits against Santiago during the second set of a Garden Grove League match at home Tuesday.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

Senior outside hitter Jasmine Torres tied a match-high total with eight kills and two service aces for the Lobos (5-4). Junior setter Katie Mai had 16 assists and one ace. Sophomore middle blocker Natalie Tran added four kills and a block.

Senior middle blocker Rebecca Le had two kills and two aces, and senior outside hitter Kayla Onofre chipped in with three kills.

Although the Cavaliers (6-6) did not advance to the CIF Southern Section playoffs last season, Herndon did not necessarily see the league opener as a must-win match.

“It changes so much from year to year,” Herndon said. “I know that Santiago has done pretty well the last few games, and they’ve played some opponents and beaten them. I wasn’t too surprised about that.

“I’m just looking overall to see if we can compete and do well, so not any one particular opponent am I saying, ‘This is the one.’”

Los Amigos remains at home to face Westminster La Quinta (5-4, 1-0 in league) on Thursday.

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The Cavaliers possessed the height advantage, and their top three hitters all delivered an inspired performance.

Cavaliers coach Carmen McCaskill, a 2006 graduate of Santiago, said that opposite Siuaki Fukofuka (seven kills), middle blocker Olivee Langi (six kills) and Tuitupou returned to the court for the first time since attending the funeral for their grandmother, Ileini Langi, last week. The three Santiago players are cousins.

“Three of my girls, unfortunately, lost their grandmother,” McCaskill said. “They were at the funeral last week, so the whole team was just absolutely supportive with the girls being back today.

“They did absolutely great. They picked up everything. They hit as much as they could. For them to come back completely blew me out of the water. It’s amazing.”

Tuitupou played at an untraditional spot on the floor as a left-handed outside hitter. She was simply happy to be playing after beginning the season in a 30-day sit-out period.

“I’m excited because I didn’t get to play [in nonleague matches] because I’m a transfer from Orange,” Tuitupou said.

Junior setter Jennifer Jurado, a first-year varsity starter for the Cavaliers, had 23 assists. She had an array of suitable options at her disposal, which also included middle blocker Faith Fennell (five kills).

“We have a really good relationship,” Jurado said of her team. “A good relationship means a good team, so I think that’s what really brings us to the top because we all have a good relationship with each other.”

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Los Amigos’ Kim Mai digs the ball against Santiago during the first set of a Garden Grove League match at home Tuesday.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

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