MONROVIA — As a setter, no other player carries more responsibility to run the offense than Kristie Shurie.
Compound that with the fact she's never played competitively with her teammates, and it seems like a more arduous task.
Yet, the La Cañada High standout quickly found a way to mesh with her Public schools teammates, as she helped rally them back Sunday evening to knock off the Private squad, 23-25, 25-22, 25-21, 25-23, in the second annual San Gabriel Valley All-Star senior volleyball match at Monrovia High.
Shurie finished with 26 assists — most of them to Monrovia's Noralia To'omalatai (11 kills), San Marino's Kathleen Sloan (nine kills) and Spartans teammate Lauren Schroeder (eight kills) — to even the all-time series at 1-1.
"Coming together with a new team, with people you don't know, is very hard," said Shurie, who also finished with eight aces.
"In the first game, we were still learning how to play with each other — we weren't really communicating well. But it definitely improved as the game went on and we learned how each other played, where to go. Overall, it was a fun experience."
Down by as many as seven in the fourth game, Madeline Watkins (Mayfield) fed Diamond Ridley-Pierce (La Salle) three times to help bring the Private schools team to within four.
Then, Alexis Genske (Pasadena Poly) and Watkins scored to trim the deficit to 23-21. Following a timeout and a Public schools error, Alex Arnett (Mayfield) delivered an ace to tie it at 23.
But after those four unanswered points, the Public schools team's Anarose Bui (San Gabriel) sent a punishing spike that came inches from the inbounds line to go ahead and Shurie sealed it with an ace.
Ridley-Pierce finished with 11 kills and Watkins posted 24 assists for the Private squad. To'omalanti also had five digs and three blocks, Catherine Horner (La Cañada) recorded eight digs and Sloan chipped in three blocks for the Public schools team.
"It was a fun time," Ridley-Pierce said. "These girls, I didn't know even know half of them. But I had a great time hanging out with them. I thought we were just having more fun with it. I don't think we were focusing on the game; just having fun, meeting people."
In the opening game, the Private schools team led by as many as five on two occasions. But the Public schools team took a lead at 20-19 and pushed it to 22-19.
But then Watkins delivered three assists to help the Private squad pull away with a 1-0 cushion.
"It was high intensity, but it was still fun," she said. "I think we all came out energized and excited to play, but I don't know if that just diminished.
"Usually, in league, we play against these girls and we don't get to know them too well. But, playing with them tonight, you have more respect for them as players and it was nice to play with them in the same team."