Pacifica Christian Orange County girls’ volleyball opens playoffs with sweep
Carly Kane was the only freshman on varsity for the 2018 Pacifica Christian Orange County girls’ volleyball team, which advanced to the CIF Southern Section Division 9 title match.
Three years later, the senior libero hopes to help the Tritons return to the finals in Division 8.
Kane’s right arm helped close out the first step of that journey on Thursday.
She served four straight aces to end the match, as No. 3-seeded Pacifica Christian earned a 25-5, 25-9, 25-17 victory over Inglewood Animo Leadership in the first round of the Division 8 playoffs at home.
“We definitely have a really young team,” said Kane, one of three team captains along with senior setter Logan Bray and junior middle blocker Rebecca Penjoyan. “We’ve been figuring out how to work out the kinks throughout the season, but now I think we’re definitely at our peak. We’re playing really well together, we’ve got a great team dynamic, all the girls love each other, so I think we’re heading in the right direction going into playoffs.”
Pacifica Christian (17-9), the Academy League runner-up, has a road trip Saturday night. The Tritons will play at Oxnard Santa Clara in the second round.
Penjoyan led coach Ally Forsberg’s Tritons with 10 kills against Animo Leadership (8-14), and freshman Julia Hanson had four kills. Bray dished out 26 assists, and Kane had eight digs to go along with her four aces.
Pacifica Christian junior Ava Loritz had six aces for the hosts, who served well overall; eight different players had at least one ace.
Animo Leadership, which was led by five kills by senior Paige Willis, found itself overmatched but kept on battling. The visitors were within 16-15 in set three, but Pacifica Christian ended the set on a 9-2 run. Peyton Soliday, a junior, had a big block that gave the Tritons a side out and allowed Kane to finish the match off with those aces.
“It was really fun,” Kane said with a smile of the closing run. “I was really tired, so I was like, ‘I need to get this done.’ That was the mindset … We’ve gotten way better kind of closing games and finishing them, so I think that’s going to be a really good strong suit that we have this year.”
Forsberg, who played volleyball at Huntington Beach High School and Biola University before being hired at Pacifica Christian last fall, likes what she sees and agreed that making the CIF finals is the team’s goal. The Tritons advanced to the second round in Division 7 in 2019, losing to top-seeded eventual finalist Garden Grove in five sets. There were no girls’ volleyball playoffs last fall due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Forsberg was able to use her entire roster for Thursday’s match. The team typically runs a 5-1 rotation with just Bray at setter, but the last two sets it was able to incorporate setter Danisha Salinas as well.
“Everyone felt that they had a part, which is great,” Forsberg said. “I feel confident. I think it was a good start [to CIF], to see everyone step up and play hard. We closed that third set well.”
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