No looking back for Spartans

LA CAÑADA FLINTRIDGE — Compared to Saturday, the La Cañada High School Sports Palace felt like a completely different place when the Spartan girls' volleyball team hosted Temple City in a Rio Hondo League match Tuesday.

The gym went from packed with a noisy crowd when La Cañada swept its cross-town rival, Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy, to quiet and nearly empty Tuesday. The result was no different for the Spartans, though, as they swept the Rams, 25-7, 25-10, 25-10.

La Cañada Coach Brock Turner spoke with his team before the match, encouraging them to keep up their energy and intensity against Temple City (3-9, 1-5 in league).

"It's about more than just going through the motions," said Turner, who was able to play all of his subs Tuesday. "You want to be a class act and have some pride in what you do. When the ball comes over the net, it doesn't matter who's on the other side. It's easier said than done, though."

La Cañada (15-7, 6-0 in league) started out slowly, as Temple City tied the first game at 4. After working their way to a 6-5 advantage, behind kills from Kendall Walbrecht and Laura Schroeder, the Spartans shook off their lull and went on a 19-2 run to take the first game.

"We were really excited from Saturday, but really tired too, so it took us a little to get into it [today]," La Cañada setter Kirstie Shurie said. "It took us a while, but I think we did a pretty good of coming out of that [slow start]."

The Spartans, who came in ranked fifth in the CIF Southern Section Division II-AA poll, had five aces in the 19-2 run with Megan Swartzlander racking up four of them. La Cañada finished the match with 22 aces. Walbrecht also had seven kills in the early run.

Four Micaela Anderson aces led La Cañada to an early 5-0 lead in the second game. The Rams battled back to tie it at 5, before the Spartans went on a 9-1 run to take a commanding 14-6 lead. La Cañada went on a 10-2 run — after giving up two points, behind five kills from Anderson — to capture the second game.

Again, Temple City was able to keep the third game close early, before the Spartans enjoyed another run. With the Rams down, 7-6, La Cañada went on an 18-4 run behind seven more kills from Walbrecht, to take the third game and sweep the match.

Walbrecht finished with a match-high 19 kills. Anderson had eight kills and eight aces for the Spartans. Claire Hilsen added six kills and four blocks for La Cañada and Shurie had 27 assists. Catherine Horner, La Cañada's libero, had 10 digs.

With another sweep, the Spartans have extended their winning streak (via sweep) to nine matches. Turner said the solid play began when the team had a 6 a.m. Saturday practice a few weeks ago. During the practice, he asked his squad where they were headed.

"We know where we've been, but let's not look back," Turner said. "Ever since then we have been playing at another level and can go into that extra gear when we want."

Horner echoed her coach, crediting the intense practices, particularly the Saturday morning ones for setting her team up on this dominant run.

"Those really woke us up," Horner said. "We realize this is it. This is the season and this is preparation for CIF. Hopefully we'll win it."

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