Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy girls' volleyball marches into quarterfinals

Power hitting isn't always a necessity for the Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy volleyball team during a rally.

For the Tologs, it's more about grinding out points and wearing down opposing defenses in order to pick up critical points throughout a match.

It's worked particularly well throughout the CIF Southern Section Division I-A playoffs for the Tologs on their way to the quarterfinals.

Fourth-seeded Flintridge Sacred Heart (25-4) will look to continue the trend when it takes on visiting El Dorado (16-8) in a quarterfinal home match at 7 p.m. Saturday.

“The ball doesn't always go down,” said Banaag, who guided the Tologs to a share of the Mission League championship with rival Harvard-Westlake. “We are not built for power or crushing the ball down your throat.

“We have the type of players who can battle for a long time and know when to make the key play on offense or defense. It's worked out well for us.”

The Tologs reached the quarterfinals after they recorded a 25-15, 25-16, 25-23 second-round road victory against Thousand Oaks on Thursday. Flintridge Sacred Heart got 40 assists from setter Sophia Coffey and 17 kills from outside hitter Kayla Lund. It also received 29 digs from libero Emily Develle and 12 kills from outside hitter Katie Conley.

Having various options available has made the Tologs a viable contender for their first championship since 1997.

“Things have continued to evolve nicely,” said Banaag, who took over the program prior to last season after winning three straight CIF championships at Mayfield from 2008-10. “We keep on learning about ourselves and trying to stay consistent with our level of play.

“We try to build on something from each match. Plus, there's a lot of pride with our practices, which is where it starts.”

Flintridge Sacred Heart will have a formidable test in El Dorado, which advanced to the championship match last season against La Salle. El Dorado won the Century League championship before posting playoff victories against Capistrano Valley and Valencia Valencia. It notched a 25-17, 25-23, 25-20 second-round victory against visiting Valencia and will compete in its first road playoff match Saturday.

Flintridge Sacred Heart, one of three Mission League teams still competing, and El Dorado did not meet during the regular season.

“We don't know all that much about them,” said Banaag, who saw the Tologs open the playoffs with a four-game win against Ayala on Tuesday. “They got to the final last year, so we have a lot of respect for them.

“It will be nice to play at home.”

Lund, a freshman, said the Tologs will be prepared for the Golden Hawks.

“The longer you go in the playoffs, the better the teams you'll be facing,” said Lund, who has recorded 38 kills in two playoff matches. “We are confident we can do well against them and I'm sure they have some good players.”

The winner of the Flintridge Sacred Heart-El Dorado contest will meet top-seeded La Salle or Aliso Niguel in a semifinal match Tuesday.

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