The Surf League, as far as girls’ volleyball is concerned, could have accurately been described as a crapshoot in its inaugural season.
As the calendar turned to league, each of the teams had shown strengths, along with apparent inconsistencies. It therefore was no coincidence that the Surf League saw its members beat each other up over the past three weeks.
The results of Tuesday’s matches saw Edison, Huntington Beach and Los Alamitos wind up in a three-way tie for second place. Tiebreaker matches had to be played on Wednesday, with the last team standing being granted the league’s final automatic berth into the CIF Southern Section playoffs.
Los Alamitos emerged from the pack, claiming second place in the Surf League with a 25-22, 25-18 win in the best-of-three match over Edison at Marina High on Wednesday night.
The Griffins (19-13) had superior firepower during the regular season. Often, when a season gets put on the line, a team needs unsung heroes to step up. Los Alamitos got that in junior outside hitter Chloe Allen, who matched sophomore outside hitter Starr Williams for the team lead with seven kills.
“She didn’t even play last night against CdM, and then she started today,” Griffins coach David Huber said of Allen. “I’m pretty excited for her to step up and have that moment.”
Allen drew into the lineup after the Griffins failed to nail down second place on Tuesday by dropping their league finale to visiting Corona del Mar, the undefeated Surf League champion. She said it was difficult for her team to come back the next day following that defeat, but she wanted to do her part to make her teammates proud.
“I really just got myself in the right mindset,” Allen said. “I’m with a really good group of girls, and they just kind of boosted me up and gave me some energy.
“As long as I focus on my part, I knew that I would make them happy and I would make myself proud.”
Allie Livingston had 17 assists, and her one service ace clinched the first set against the Chargers. Abby Karich delivered the match-ending kill in Game 2.
Junior middle blocker Summer Hanks and junior outside hitter Nikki Logan led the Chargers with six kills apiece.
Hanks’ contributions (14 kills and five blocks in two matches) came at a time that Edison really needed a new source of production. The Chargers were playing without junior setter Emily Sparks and senior opposite Katelyn Sasaki. Chargers coach Matt Skolnik said that both players were dealing with general soreness after being involved in a car crash on Monday.
“At the end of the year, you need some people to step up and play, and she definitely stepped up,” Skolnik said of Hanks. “She hit a really high percentage against Huntington, and she was just available.
“She’s been battling injuries a little bit all year, but she is relishing the opportunity and making the most of it.”
Taylor Torchia also had her moments in the match, including back-to-back kills in the first set to narrow Los Alamitos’ lead to 14-13. Chants of “Light the torch” followed those points.
Edison advanced to the second-place match by beginning the evening with a 25-18, 25-23 win over Huntington Beach. The teams had played at Huntington Beach on Tuesday, with the Oilers winning that match in a sweep.
“It’s a complete 180-[degree turn] tonight,” Oilers coach Craig Pazanti said of his feelings after the second of back-to-back matches against Edison. “It just looked like there was no effort, no want to really be out there, no intensity on the floor.”
Wednesday’s tiebreaking procedure did not impact overall records, meaning that Edison (16-14) and Huntington Beach (13-12) retained their winning records and will be eligible to receive at-large playoff bids.
Asked to give his first impression of the Surf League, Huber said, “It’s kind of what we thought it was going to be. It’s a tough match every night out, and obviously, everyone beating each other kind of proves that.”