Spartan rivalry win over Tologs takes work

LA CAÑADA FLINTRIDGE — It's safe to say that for the past four years the cross-town rivalry between the La Cañada High and Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy girls' volleyball teams has been dominated by the Spartans.

While the Spartans extended their winning streak over the Tologs to four straight matches Saturday with a 25-20, 18-25, 25-22, 25-18 victory, a young Sacred Heart squad showed the tides may be turning back in its favor on its home court.

La Cañada relied on its seniors for the win, particularly libero Madison Teodo, outside hitters Micaela Anderson and Kendall Walbrecht and middle blocker Lauren Streeter for the victory.

Anderson finished with a match-high 21 kills, while Walbrecht was not far behind with 19 of her own. Teodo made a number of miraculous digs and Streeter stepped up in the third game with five blocks and two kills in the frame.

"I think our team just wanted it so badly that we were willing to put everything out on the court to get it," said Streeter, who finished with five kills and seven blocks. "It feels good [to get the fourth straight win], especially being a senior, knowing that my whole time in high school they haven't been able to take anything off of us."

La Cañada Coach Brock Turner was not happy with his team's performance, but he credited that to the Tologs.

First-year Sacred Heart Coach Ernest Banaag was quite happy with his team's night, though.

"I only have three girls returning from varsity last year... so to come out like that, compete and not lay down, that shows a lot of the character I am trying to instill in the girls," he said. "Right now I think taking a game out of La Cañada really helped moving forward. La Cañada is a great team with those two outside hitters. We couldn't stop them."

Banaag got a team-high 13 kills from Katie Conley, 11 from Meghan Lacey, eight from Sophia Coffey and eight blocks from middle blocker Megan Bacall.

Both teams split the first two games and the Spartans (7-7) appeared to be en route to a third-game victory with an 18-14 lead until the Tologs (4-7) rattled off a 5-0 run, fueled by three kills from Maddie Peterson, to take a 19-18 advantage. Consecutive Tolog service errors snapped the spurt and a block and kill from Walbrecht gave the Spartans the 23-20 lead.

Two La Cañada hitting errors cut the deficit to one and kept Sacred Heart alive. The Tologs gave the advantage and game right back when one of their back-row players attempted to dig an Anderson kill attempt that was on its way out and had it go off her for Spartan point. A Sacred Heart hitting error on the ensuing play closed out the game in the Spartans favor, 25-22.

La Cañada had more difficulty closing out the fourth game. It took a commanding 21-13 lead, but five straight errors brought the Tologs back into contention, 21-18. The ensuing rally resulted in a cross-court shot from Sacred Heart that just bounced on the outside of the line for a Spartan point. Streeter and Leigh Sclafani came up with a big block and Walbrecht fired down straight kills to clinch the match.

There was little separation between the two teams in the first game, as they both played to nine ties early with the frame knotted at 11. Sacred Heart kept within one, 19-18, on the heels of a 3-0 run, but two errors gave momentum back to the Spartans, who clinched the win on a Streeter kill.

Sacred Heart came out on fire in the second game, which resulted in an early 10-3 Tologs lead. The Spartans attempted to rally back but couldn't overcome the early hole in the 25-18 loss.

"It was mostly just our team coming together and realizing we can beat them and we can get some kills off them, even though they're bigger than us," Conley said of the second game.

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