La Cañada goes to another level

LA CAÑADA — The La Cañada High girls' volleyball team is forbidden to look ahead in its CIF Southern Section Division II-AA playoff bracket by Coach Brock Turner this postseason.

Turner's major concern coming into Tuesday's first-round match against Temescal Canyon at home was having his team focus solely on the Titans and not the future. The Spartans did just that, sweeping Temescal Canyon, 25-8, 25-13, 25-2.

"Our big focus going into practice was today only, nothing more," Turner said. "Maybe in past years, people would look ahead in the brackets. No, no looking in ahead the brackets this year. I think we got into a little trouble [with that] last year."

Staying focused didn't keep the Spartans (21-10), who advanced to the CIF quarterfinals last season, from having fun out there, though.

"We had a lot of energy and I think we do really well when we have a lot of energy," said La Cañada's setter, Kirstie Shurie. "It seems weird, but it helped us focus."

The Titans (6-17) were buried by early runs from La Cañada in each game. The Spartans went on a 17-2 run to start the first game, behind three kills and three aces from outside hitter Micaela Anderson, who clearly enjoyed herself out on the court.

"I was having a blast," Anderson said. "It's just fun to have the students come out and have all of them cheering. It gets me that much more into it. CIF is so much fun."

Anderson finished with a match-high 15 kills and three aces.

"She had a great match and she's had a great year," Turner said. "The girls are starting to figure out what it takes. They don't need the perfect set, just stay in the system and start blasting balls, and they're relying on their teammates to back them up."

Temescal Canyon got out to a 5-2 run to cut it to 19-7, but the Spartans closed out the first game with a 6-1 spree, behind four more kills from Anderson and a game-point ace from Shurie, who had a match-high 37 assists and eight aces (five in the first game).

The Titans had an early 7-1 hole to dig out from in the second game. The closest they got to was within three, 9-6, before the Spartans enjoyed another 16-7 run to take the game, 25-13. Catherine Horner had three aces during the game-clinching run. Horner also had a team-high 13 digs in the match.

La Cañada went to another level in the third game, cruising out to a 21-0 lead, behind four more aces from Shurie and four kills from Anderson and two from Lauren Schroeder.

"We huddled up before [the third game] and said we couldn't take them lightly," Anderson said. "It doesn't matter if it's 20-0 or 20-18, we have to play like we always play."

Temescal Canyon managed to get two points in game three on a hitting and service error from the Spartans, who clinched the sweep on a kill from Claire Hilsen, who finished the match with four kills and two blocks.

Turner was happy to see his team control the match all the way through Tuesday and he wants that to continue Thursday when the Spartans face Mission Viejo, which swept Riverside Poly, at a site to be determined.

"You can't just show up in these games and kick ass," Turner said. "It's all between the ears and the heart right now. I know it's a cliche, but sometimes we live in cliches and they can come true."

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