Spartans rule league honors

For the past eight years, the La Cañada High girls' volleyball team has owned the Rio Hondo League.

It's no different when the league announces its all-league teams. Out of 16 spots reserved for Rio Hondo League's best players, the Spartans claim five honorees, the most of the league's six teams. San Marino is second, with four players.

Eirene Kim and Katie Pierce were named the league's co-most valuable players. Both girls were leaders on the floor for the Spartans.

"[Kim] brought the leadership of being the team captain and captain of the defense," La Cañada Coach Brock Turner said. "Katie was the captain of the front row. She played all the way around, got involved in the offense and was always a go-to person if we could get her decent passes. They were both always pushing the other players."

Kim, the team's libero, co-captain and lone senior, did everything in her power to keep a ball from hitting the floor. She finished the season with a team-high 435 digs and 49 aces. She added 22 assists on the season.

Pierce, a sophomore middle blocker, finished the season with a kill percentage of 56.4 (232 kills in 411 attempts), a team high for Spartan teammates with at least seven kills. She added 146 digs, 42 aces and 26 blocks to boost her resume.

"We're going to miss Eirene after four years on varsity," Turner said. "I'm excited to have Katie back for two more years; I only see her getting better."

Kirstie Shurie and Kendall Walbrecht were both named to Rio Hondo's first team.

The entire offense ran through Shurie, La Cañada's junior setter. Her 1,017 assists were a team high by 995. She also had 179 digs and proved her worth with hard work on the floor.

"She brought so much as far as hustle," Turner said. "She would always try to make it a hittable ball. For being a first-year setter, she did such a remarkable job, way above what I expected of her. I knew there would be good things from her, but she went so beyond that."

Walbrecht, La Cañada's sophomore outside hitter, was the team's go-to offensive threat for a large part of the year. She carried the load on offense while fellow sophomore outside hitter Micaela Anderson was out for 18 games with an injury. Walbrecht boasted a team-high 330 kills on the season to go with 30 digs and 14 blocks.

"Between the first and last day of the season [Walbrecht] grew," Turner said. "She just kept stepping up more and more. I know she'll keep getting better in the next two years."

Cat Horner, the Spartans' junior defensive specialist and co-captain, was named to the league's second team. She accumulated 188 digs, second most behind Kim, and 29 aces.

Claire Hilsen and Laura Schroeder were Rio Hondo League honorable-mention choices. Hilsen, a junior middle blocker for La Cañada, had 149 kills and 68 blocks. Schroeder, the team's junior right-side hitter, finished the year with 180 kills, 26 blocks and 18 digs.

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