MONROVIA — Judging by how quickly it came together Sunday afternoon, the Public schools team showed little signs of falling victim to the one thing that plagues most teams in all-star games — continuity.
From start to finish, the Public schools team played like it had been together for longer than the one practice it went through leading up to the exhibition, beating the Private squad, 25-19, 25-22, in the second annual San Gabriel Valley All-Star underclassmen volleyball match at Monrovia High.
Claire Kieffer-Wright (South Pasadena High) finished with six kills and two blocks, Micaela Anderson (La Cañada) posted three kills, two digs and a block, and Kendall Walbrecht (La Cañada) added two kills and two blocks in the win.
“I think we really jelled well together,” said Amanda Yee (San Marino), who finished with 15 assists. “Playing with a new group of girls and also playing against a team you’ve never seen play together, there’s really no way to strategize. But I thought we pulled together pretty well.”
The Public schools team hardly endured any bumps.
It never trailed in the first game, racing out to a 9-4 cushion and leading by as many as seven when Yee fed Tiffany Ha (San Gabriel) for a 20-13 advantage.
In the second game, the Private schools team took an 11-7 lead after an error.
The Public squad bounced back to forge ties at 12, 18 and 19. And it received a huge boost when the Private schools team came up short on the next five possessions, including Kayla Howell’s (Monrovia) kill attempt that rippled the net and died on its own end.
Ahead, 24-19, Yee then connected with Kieffer-Wright to secure the win.
“It was so much fun. I enjoyed the whole experience,” said Haley De Sales (La Salle). “Even when we were down, we were still able to smile and make jokes and we all just bonded right away.”
De Sales finished with six kills, Carmen Costa (Westridge) finished with five kills and an ace, and Madeline Watkins (Mayfield) added 13 assists.
Watkins connected with Costa on a pair of scores, including a punishing back-row kill that brought the Private schools team within 18-16 in the second game.
But the Public squad countered by scoring two straight and the Private team’s bid to force a third game came up short.
“In the second game, we were down and we really kind of said, no, we’re not going to go to a third game. And we were able to clean it up and win in two,” Yee said. “It’s definitely hard trying to establish chemistry, but the girls were open with each other and it was easy to adjust very quickly.”