Locals take third place

The La Cañada High girls' volleyball team looked to capture some more hardware in the Royal Classic in Simi Valley, the team's second tournament of the year.

In order to accomplish that feat at Saturday's event, the Spartans had to battle their way through a sextuple-header.

"It was the world's longest day," said La Cañada Coach Brock Turner, whose team finished third in the best-of-three tournament, winning five of six matches.

Two Spartans, senior libero Eirene Kim and sophomore outside hitter Kendall Walbrecht, took home all-tournament honors. Kim accumulated 41 digs and Walbrecht racked up 34 kills within the eight-hour span.

The Spartans breezed through their first four games, beating Simi Valley 25-14, 25-13, in the tournament opener. Golden Valley was the next to fall, 25-16, 25-5, in the second round. Next up was the No. 1 team in La Cañada's pool, Paso Robles. But the Spartans stepped up, winning 25-16, 25-18.

That put La Cañada's into the quarterfinal round against San Luis Obispo. But the Spartans continued to roll, earning a 25-14, 25-21 victory.

"We're just playing ball like we know how to," Turner said. "Sometimes when you go into a tournament, it takes some time to get going; but we did the things we needed to do. We passed and served well from the beginning to the end and played good, Spartan volleyball — nothing out of the ordinary, nothing new."

But as the day and each match wore on, fatigue set in. The Spartans were tired coming into the semifinal match against Notre Dame Academy. The contest was La Cañada High's fifth in nine hours. Notre Dame came out on top, beating La Cañada 25-23, 25-18.

"Notre Dame just picked it up," Turner said. "It was long day for us, but it was a long day for everybody. They played a lot of error-free ball."

Although La Cañada's loss kept them from the championship match, it still won the third-place trophy after defeating Buena, 25-17.

"Overall, it was a good tournament, but a long tournament. I think you deal with it more mentally than physically," said Turner, who said it can be difficult to get a team focused for a third-place match after just losing a shot at the championship.

"We got a nice trophy for it and it was a good way to end our preseason as we head into league matchups," Turner said.

Coming into Rio Hondo League play, the Spartans will face some easier competition than they have so far this season. But Turner isn't worried about his team staying focused through a light schedule.

"We have to keep growing; there are always the little things," Turner said. "We have to work a little on the blocking and some of the technical aspects of the game, but we'll be fine."

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