Team play leads Gaels

SAN GABRIEL — Like it's been all year for the Holy Family girls' volleyball team, Thursday's road victory over San Gabriel Mission, which locked up a share of the Horizon Leauge title for the Gaels, was a team effort.

Holy Family Coach Robert Bringas played his entire roster, as the Gaels swept the Pioneers, 25-7, 25-17, 25-21, for their second league title — or at least a share of it — in as many years.

"As we go into playoffs, the most important thing will be getting everybody, including the girls on our bench, ready to play," Bringas said. "It was good for them to get that experience tonight."

Bringas' squad still has a chance to win the Horizon League outright, if Alverno, ranked ninth in CIF Southern Section Division IV-A, lost to Bishop Conaty-Loretto Thursday or slips up against Sacred Heart of Jesus on Nov. 1.

Either way is fine for the Gaels.

"It feels amazing, very, very good [winning league]," Bringas said. "It speaks a lot about the resilience of the girls. They wanted it this year and had to do a lot to repeat. Sharing would be just as good."

"Going back to back, we couldn't ask for anything better," echoed Holy Family's libero Alicia Marquez, who had a team high 41 digs in the match. "Overall, we've had a great year."

Still, there was little-to-no celebrating for Holy Family Thursday, as the Gaels know the true test lies before them.

"We are ready to take on the challenge and see who we're facing in the playoffs," Marquez said.

The Gaels (14-8-3, 7-1 in league), ranked 10th in Division IV-A, came out determined Thursday and took a 10-3 lead in the first game, forcing a San Gabriel (0-11, 0-7 in league) timeout. Momentum stayed on Holy Family's side, as it ran away with the first game, 25-7, behind four kills from Rianne Sanchez in the opening game.

Ashlee Sandoval racked up four kills early in the second game, helping Holy Family get out to an 8-1 lead. The Pioneers managed to put together their first impressive run in the game, cutting the lead to 10-6. The Gaels pushed their advantage back out to 21-9 and rode that to a win, 25-17, despite a late charge from San Gabriel.

Bringas continued to mix things up in the third game, adjusting his offense, which allowed the Pioneers to take their first lead of the match. San Gabriel threatened to force a fourth game, with an 18-15 edge, but the Gaels battled back to take the third game and the sweep, 25-21, with a 10-3 run.

"I wasn't, but I sensed some other people were nervous [in that third game], but it worked out," said Sandoval, who finished with a match-high 11 kills, 14 digs and two blocks.

Denise Patino and Shanelle Agito added five kills each for Holy Family, while Sanchez and Nicolette Garcia each had four.

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