La Cañada High's girls' volleyball team has a saying: "We don't collect trophies, we collect championships."
But the Spartans didn't return home from their first tournament of the season, the Molten Classic, with a championship. They did, however, earn a second-place trophy.
"Our pieces are working out really well," La Cañada Coach Brock Turner said. "They're believing in themselves and the communication among everybody is really picking up."
The Molten Classic, hosted by Gahr High in Cerritos, was like a mini-CIF Southern Section playoffs, Turner said. The Spartans breezed through the tournament in the early rounds, but competition stiffened as they went along.
La Cañada defeated Marlborough High, 25-14, 25-23, 25-18, in the first round, beat Rosary, 25-21, 16-25, 25-19, 29-27, and La Salle, 22-25, 25-23, 25-18, 25-16, to qualify for the semifinals.
Entering its semifinal match against Mater Dei on Sept. 13, La Cañada was ranked first in CIF Southern Section Division II-AA. Mater Dei kept the games close, but the Spartans responded by winning the match, 22-25, 30-28, 25-20, 25-20, to earn a trip to championship against Lakewood.
La Cañada got off to a slow start against Lakewood, losing the first two games, 25-13, 25-12.
"The one thing about these girls is they never quit," Turner said. "Even though they got somewhat blown away in the first two games, they came back."
When the third game rolled around, the Spartans looked like a completely different team, downing the Lancers, 25-13. La Cañada battled, but fell short in the fourth game, 25-22.
Despite the loss, the Spartans were still ranked No. 1 in their division.
Micaela Anderson, Kendall Walbrecth and Eirene Kim were all named to the Molten Classic All-Tournament team.
Kim, the Spartans' captain and senior libero, led the team in digs (105) and aces (eight) in the five-game tournament. Both of the Spartans' sophomore outside hitters, Anderson and Walbrecth, made the all-tournament team after leading their squad in kills. Walbrecht accumulated 70 and Anderson notched 49.
"The neat thing is certain ones had better days than others but everyone filled in," Turner said. "We didn't have to depend on one person the whole time."
Turner still liked what he saw throughout the tournament but the team will have to work on its consistency.
"As an inexperienced team, we're going to have a little bit of a rocky road," Turner said. "We met a bump in the road the other day, but we'll be all right."