Having finally one-upped traditional nonleague rival Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy at home last season, the La Cañada High girls’ volleyball team set out on Tuesday evening to prove it could achieve the same result in the Tologs’ house.
The crowd ended up being fairly evenly split, as the Spartans faithful traveled well, but on the court it was all La Cañada, which swept the Tologs for the second year in a row, 25-16, 25-19, 25-22.
“Last year, we had 11 different people on the team, so this is something for [our players],” La Cañada Coach Brock Turner said. “There’s always that rivalry, everyone loves each other on both teams and they get along really well, but this is something for them and it’s a building block for us.”
La Canada (7-1), which was led by 12 kills apiece from Micaela Anderson and Kendall Walbrecht, was in full control of the first two games, but unlike in last year’s meeting, the Tologs stepped up their play in the third game and nearly avoided the sweep.
“I know we’re nervous,” said first-year Sacred Heart Coach Anne Arlie, who got nine kills from Camille Coffey. “Regardless of whether you’re home or away, it’s always nerve wracking to play a large rival. We lost to them last year, as well, so I think there was a lot of pressure and a lot of nerves, especially when they come into our house and we feel like we have to step it up even more.
“They definitely didn’t play as intense in the first and second games as they did in the third and, obviously, that was visible.”
Sacred Heart (5-5) was able to make a stand in the third game, taking an 11-5 lead, behind a spark from Kathryn O’Sullivan and Jessica Martin off the bench.
O’Sullivan came up with blocks on three consecutive plays and Martin continued the 9-3 run with three kills.
“It’s been kind of a learning experience for everyone to see who gets that starting position and who’s going to play outside,” Arlie said. “I put in who I thought would be my best player in the first and second game, it didn’t turn out so well, and the person who came in the third game, they wanted it.”
The Tologs’ momentum didn’t hold up, though, as La Cañada made a run behind a couple of kills from Katie Pierce (eight kills) and got back within one point.
It was back and forth from there, with La Cañada grabbing control from a tie at 22.
“The one thing we’ve [had] all year with such a young team is the ability to fight back,” said Turner, who got 13 digs from Eirene Kim. "[The third game] was really important. You never know, they’re on their home court and they don’t want to be swept. …My big goal going into the third game was to get the momentum early because we’re good at taking the lead and holding it, but they fought and they fought and I was proud of them for that.”