Spartans volleyball upsets No. 4 seed

LA CA¿ADA FLINTRIDGE — The seismic shift in the CIF Southern Section Division II-AA girls' volleyball playoffs was felt not once but twice Saturday night with the elimination of the Nos. 1 and 4 seeds.

Finding itself in the middle of the sudden landscape change was La Cañada High, which spent the first part of the season recovering from nagging injuries before regrouping down the homestretch.

With Micaela Anderson and Lauren Streeter leading the charge on offense and defense, respectively, La Cañada pulled off one of the gigantic upsets Saturday.

Anderson finished with a match-high 25 kills and Streeter added five blocks and 13 digs to lead host La Cañada to a 21-25, 25-21, 25-20, 28-26 quarterfinal victory against fourth-seeded Oaks Christian.

La Canada (19-11) will face host Martin Luther King in a semifinal match at 7 p.m. Tuesday. King recorded a 25-14, 25-22, 30-28 win against top-seeded North Torrance, setting the stage for an unlikely showdown with an appearance in the title game at stake.

“It's amazing to see what's happened,” said Anderson, a senior outside hitter who did an effective job of picking up timely kills against Oaks Christian (27-6). “Not being seeded, I think, has helped us through the playoffs because people don't expect us to win.

“When you are seeded, people come after you. I like the way we are playing and being able to keep going.”

The Spartans, who won the Rio Hondo League title, will make their first trip to the semifinals since 2009. La Cañada also avenged a quarterfinal loss to Oaks Christian at home in 2010.

Streeter, who made a pair of clutch blocks in the fourth game with the Spartans staring at game point, said the Spartans were able to remain calm throughout plenty of tense moments in the contest.

“You get in these type of close games, and you want to find a way to go out there and shut them down,” said Streeter, a senior middle blocker. “I know I have to try to get to every ball that I can.

“We wanted to get that fourth game. It came down to our heart, passing and desire.”

Streeter showed she was ready to lead the Spartans' defense, especially in the fourth game.

The Lions, who won the Tri-Valley League championship before earning a postseason victory in the second round against Norco following a first-round bye, appeared poised to force a winner-take-all fifth game when they built a 24-21 lead. The Spartans, who picked up playoff wins against Paramount and Arroyo Grande, got kills from Kendall Walbrecht (17 kills) and Anderson to close to within 24-23.

Streeter notched a block to knot it at 24. Oaks Christian took a 25-24 lead, but a serving error made it 25-25. A block by Streeter gave the Spartans a 26-25 advantage before the Lions made it 26-all. A kill by Anderson made it 27-26 and an ace by Loren Shin clinched the victory.

“We did what we had to do,” said La Cañada Coach Brock Turner, who piloted the Spartans to a CIF championship in 2008. “We just moved our feet and were able to hang around.

“Oaks Christian is similar to us. We got to a lot of the balls and we were able to square up on them. It's great to win and move on.”

La Cañada used a 10-4 run to grab a 14-4 lead in the third game. Anderson had four kills and Streeter chipped in with two blocks to lead the way in that stretch. Oaks Christian got to within 24-20 before a kill by Anderson gave the Spartans a 2-1 lead in games.

La Cañada appeared on the verge of falling in the second game when Oaks Christian took a 19-16 lead on a kill by senior middle blocker Lucy Williams. However, La Cañada finished on a 9-2 run that featured three kills and one ace from Walbrecht. Walbrecht had a kill to give the Spartans a 23-21 lead and then notched an ace to make it 24-21.

Oaks Christian trailed, 17-12, in the first game. It tied it at 17 on an ace by junior middle blocker/opposite hitter Jessi Bierling. The Spartans regained the lead at 19-17 before the Lions finished up on an 8-2 run that included three kills by junior outside hitter Shelby Livingstone.

The Spartans also received seven kills from senior middle blocker Katie Pierce.

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