Spartans go outside for win against La Salle

PASADENA — There just wasn't an answer for La Cañada High's outside hitters when La Salle hosted the Spartans in a nonleague match Tuesday night.

Kendall Walbrecht and Micaela Anderson, both of La Cañada's junior outside hitters, finished with a match-high 14 kills in propelling the Spartans to a sweeping victory over La Salle, 25-16, 25-18, 25-16.

"It was a great matchup," La Salle Coach Tiare Tuitama said. "We both have tall girls, but their girls were able to adjust and our girls had a hard time recovering."

La Cañada Coach Brock Turner also expected a good match.

"We knew this would be tough," Turner said. "[Our girls] came out with the most energy this year and pretty much dominated. We had some blips here and there but it's fine, it's still September."

Nine unforced errors cost the Lancers the first game, as La Salle (6-3) committed five service errors and four attacking errors. La Cañada (8-7) got out to a 14-9 lead before Tuitama called a timeout.

"One of my pet peeves is free balls and missed serves — hate them," Tuitama said. "We gave 25 points away on blocking errors [in the match], that's a whole game right there."

The Lancers responded out of the timeout by going on a 6-1 run, cutting the lead to 15-14. Four more Lancers' errors and three kills from Anderson helped the Spartans close out the first game on a 10-2 run for a 25-16 victory.

Anderson said it came easy to her Tuesday.

"I think we are finally clicking as a team, figuring out the game and how it flows," Anderson said.

Tuitama said her team was prepared for La Cañada and planned on blocking Anderson and Walbrecht, but couldn't execute.

"Their outsides would hit and push our blockers back," Tuitama said. "We need a stronger block and to work on our timing because we were expecting it, but had a hard time executing."

La Cañada jumped out to a 12-3 lead in the second game, as Walbrecht had five kills and a block during that span. Another Lancers' timeout got La Salle back on track, as it fought back to within 20-17. Two straight kills from Walbrecht and Anderson put the Spartans back in control, however, as they closed out the game 25-18.

Turner said his outside hitters thrived against La Salle because of his team's depth and passing.

"[Kirstie Shurie's passing] was freezing the middle blockers and opening the outside more," Turner said. "With our middle blockers [Claire Hilsen and Katie Pierce] and Laura [Schroeder] on the right side, it opens it up. The blocks can't close as much."

Walbrecht echoed Turner's statements.

"It's great having so much depth, especially with our blocks, having size there really helps," she said. "Our passing is really great too."

The Lancers got out to an early lead in the third game, taking a 4-1 advantage. The Spartans fought back to tie at 6, before going on a 12-6 run. La Salle called another timeout but the Spartans kept rolling en route to a 25-15 victory, earning the sweep.

"I like how we came out in the third game, but there were too many errors on our side," Tuitama said. "[La Cañada] didn't make any."

La Cañada's depth was on display all night against La Salle, as five Spartans had at least four kills. Schroeder finished with six kills, Hilsen had five and Pierce had four.

Caroline Knop had a match-high 21 digs for La Salle while Catherine Horner had 20 for La Cañada. Katrina Palffy had a team-high 10 kills and 13 digs for the Lancers.

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