Gaels, Falcons finish better

LA CRESCENTA — Neither the Crescenta Valley High girls' volleyball team, not that of Holy Family entered the playoff round of the 2010 Crescenta Valley Girls' Varsity Volleyball Tournament on Saturday with a chance to win a Gold Division championship.

But both squads approached their Silver Division berths as a chance to improve their late season form and end the two-day event on a better note than it began.

Today was much better than yesterday," Crescenta Valley first-year Coach Steve Umemoto said on Saturday afternoon after his team had won its final two matches, including a 25-19, 25-15 win over John Marshall to clinch 11th place. "Yesterday we had a little talk about coming together more as a team and we did that today. We cheered for each other and we played together, not so much individual, but a lot of teamwork."

The Gaels, who have already clinched a playoff berth and the Horizon League title with two matches remaining on their regular-season schedule, did not win any of their six matches during the tournament, but Coach Robert Bringas said the experience will be good for the team overall and make it stronger for the postseason.

"Today was a lot better," said Bringas, whose team's final match on Saturday, a 25-19, 21-25, 15-11 loss to Alemany, was its most competitive of the tournament. "I think we saw a lot of things today that we can work on and improve. This next week of practice is going to be pretty intense."

Leah Gagliardi had five kills and Payton Wheeler added 13 assists for Crescenta Valley in its win over John Marshall. Wheeler notched 11 assists and Kira Guarino had eight kills for the Falcons in a 25-12, 25-15 win over Alemany earlier Saturday.

Crescenta Valley, which opened the playoffs on Saturday with an 18-25, 25-11, 15-12 loss to Eagle Rock, beat John Marshall, 26-24, 25-12, in pool play on Friday, while suffering losses to Pasadena Poly, 25-19, 25-15 and Alta Loma, 25-10, 25-20.

Holy Family suffered pool-play losses to Arroyo Grande, 25-19, 25-19, Claremont, 25-13, 25-14, and Alemany, 25-17, 25-16, on Friday before dropping matches to Burroughs, 25-8, 25-7, and John Marshall, 27-25, 25-21 to open the playoffs on Saturday.

Valerie Dominguez had eight kills for the Gaels against Alemany on Saturday and Ashlee Sandoval added six more.

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