Rio Hondo touts two MVPs

It wasn't possible for the Rio Hondo League girls' volleyball coaches to pick just one most valuable player this season.

The coaches walked away from the All-Rio Hondo League team meeting with two most valuable players — San Marino's Amanda Yee and Micaela Anderson of La Cañada.

Anderson took home a share of the honor after serving as an outside hitter and pillar in the Spartans' high-powered offense that dominated the league again this season, while Yee was also the leading offensive force for the Titans at setter.

Anderson missed the first five matches of the season with a sprained ankle and her absence was notable. She returned to finish her junior year with 309 kills, 61 digs, 50 aces and 11 blocks.

"I noticed a big difference in her when she came back," La Cañada Coach Brock Turner said. "She brought some energy inside the huddle during games. She's got that leadership on and off the court you look for in a captain."

Yee, a junior, had a team-high 404 assists, 71 digs, 46 kills, 30 aces and 19 blocks, according to the team's site. She also helped the Titans post a 21-6, 7-3 in league record and earn a 3-1 victory over Apple Valley in the first round of the CIF Southern Section Division II-AA playoffs with 35 assists and 13 digs.

San Marino was kicked out in the second round of the Division II-AA playoffs, along with the Spartans, who finished with a 22-11 (10-0) record. South Pasadena finished third in league behind San Marino with a 16-8, 6-4, record.

La Cañada had three players — Kirstie Shurie, Kendall Walbrecht and Catherine Horner — earn first-team honors.

Joey Phan and Kathleen Sloan of San Marino and South Pasadena's Claire Kieffer-Wright also got first-team nods.

Kieffer-Wright averaged a team-high 15 kills a match in the middle for the Tigers, according to South Pasadena Coach Ben Diaz.

"She was our big playmaker," Diaz said. "There weren't too many teams that could stop her. She is one of the top players in the area. She's a power player and will hopefully be unstoppable next year."

Shurie was perhaps the most integral part to La Cañada's success this year. The senior setter finished the year with 965 assists, 176 digs, 34 aces and 25 kills.

"It always is because hitters get in a flow with a certain setter," said Turner when asked how hard it is losing a setter like Shurie. "The thing I can't replace about [Shurie] is her hustle. She set balls a lot of people wouldn't and she pushed everyone around her."

Walbrecht, an outside hitter, was one of many who benefited from Shurie's passes, as she finished her junior season with a team-high 365 kills. She also had 38 blocks, 36 digs and 10 aces for the Spartans.

"She probably grew within the year and she keeps learning all the different kinds of shots," Turner said.

As the team's libero, Horner anchored La Cañada defensively with a team-high 347 digs and 51 aces.

"[Horner] is one of those people you want on the court," Turner said.

Phan, a senior, played the same role for San Marino, as she finished with a team-high 338 digs as libero. Sloan was a threat at the net for the Titans, whether on offense or defense. She had a team-high 90 blocks, 122 kills, 23 digs and 16 aces for San Marino.

South Pasadena's Samantha Figueroa, San Marino's Anna Fong (103 kills, 71 blocks and 30 aces) and La Cañada middle blockers Katie Pierce and Claire Hilsen (136 kills, 53 blocks) earned second-team honors.

Figueroa, a sophomore, was able to do a lot of different things for the Tigers as an outside hitter, including averaging eight kills a match.

"Samantha was our No. 1 outside hitter," Diaz said. "She really got involved and was our second best hitter and best passer and overall defensive player. A lot of the stuff we ran for Claire came through Samantha."

Pierce did everything possible for the Spartans in the middle as she had 167 kills, 163 digs, 48 aces and 28 blocks as a junior.

The Titans' Andrea Yen (132 kills, 27 digs, 23 blocks), Tigers' Jessica Arroyo (averaged 34 assists a match) and the Spartans' Megan Swartzlander (116 digs, 14 aces) were each all-league honorable mentions.

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