Spartans continue league domination with win over Tigers

LA CAÑADA — For a team that easily won its 50th consecutive Rio Hondo League girls' volleyball match, one might wonder whether or not the team is still challenged. But don't be fooled, said La Cañada High Coach Brock Turner, as the danger of complacency may be the biggest hurdle the Spartans have to clear.

"Sometimes we just keep trying to push for our girls to bring up our level even more," said Turner said following Tuesday afternoon's 25-13, 25-16, 25-10 sweep of South Pasadena at home. "Sometimes I think they get a little bored in this league."

La Cañada improved its record to 10-7, 2-0 in Rio Hondo, with the seemingly effortless victory over the Tigers (6-3, 1-1 in league), but had to battle back from two fierce South Pas rallies in the second and third games.

Behind the junior outside hitter Laura Schroeder's four kills, the Spartans cruised to a 25-13 opening-game win before falling behind early in the second.

The Tigers capitalized on La Cañada errors to take a 7-4 lead during the opening rallies. The Spartans battled back to cut the score to 8-7. After siding out, La Cañada came back to tie it at 9 and again at 10. Four straight points, including two straight aces by senior setter Kirstie Shurie, gave the Spartans a 12-10 lead.

The game was tied one more time before the Spartans overtook the Tigers for good, holding them at 16 points while going on to score five unanswered for the 25-16 win.

"South Pasadena brought their 'A' game today, but I think we just got lazy," Turner said. "I counted out 11 errors out of [South Pasadena's] 16 points in game two. But I give them credit for forcing us to play like that."

A wide-spread attack in the third game helped the Spartans get around Tigers middle blocker Claire Kieffer-Wright and confuse the South Pas defense. Six different La Cañada players recorded kills and five players assisted on blocks, helping the Spartans jump out to a big 17-2 lead.

A stretch of six-straight points by South Pas brought the Tigers back to within 17-8, but with the La Cañada squad now firing on all cylinders, the Tigers managed just two more points in the Spartans' 25-10 third-game win that completed the sweep.

"We just kind of go, 'You know what? We can play better than we did in game two.' And we did," Turner said. "But that's sometimes tough when you get a lead of 17-2. You still have to get that excitement in them to finish the game off."

Kendall Walbrecht paced the Spartans with 13 kills in the win, while Schroeder and Micaela Anderson balanced out the offense with eight and six kills, respectively.

Shurie recorded 34 assists and two of La Cañada's nine aces. Katie Pierce led all players with four aces and also chipped in with five kills and two blocks.

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