Granada Hills beats Taft for City Section Open Division girls’ volleyball title
They breezed through 2020 — and came one match away from winning a City Section girls’ volleyball title against Palisades.
They dominated 2021 — and ran into Venice in the final.
But this season, Granada Hills sealed the deal, beating Taft 3-1 (25-16, 23-25, 25-22, 25-18) Friday to take the L.A. City Section Open Division crown. Consistently pumping out some of the top programs in the City Section, the West Valley League again featured two of its own in the final, a passionate crowd filling up the first section in the stands at Cal State Northridge.
It makes seven titles in 15 years coaching the girls’ program for Tom Harp.
“This their third straight finals — that’s hard to do,” Taft coach Arman Mercado said Thursday. “Whether you win or lose, maintaining that top-of-the-mountain status is harder than people think.”
When asked what’s special about this particular championship, Harp responded, “it’s just been everybody. I think it’s a total team contribution where everybody plays their part.”
Before the playoffs began, outside hitter Hannah Bernstein went down with illness, leaving Granada Hills without its primary source of points in matches against Verdugo Hills and Venice. So libero Veronica Bellodas-Lazo switched to the outside to fill Bernstein’s place.
“She was the absolute reason we were able to get by those two matches,” Harp said.
Bernstein returned against Taft, leading Granada with 19 kills. Valeria Bellodas-Lazo — Veronica’s sister — added 15, and senior setter Mason Kelley was ever the lynchpin with 48 assists.
The match returned a bit of history, Harp and Mercado facing each other in 2007 for a boys’ volleyball championship at Cal State Northridge. They’re two of the longest-tenured coaches in the City Section — maintaining success in the Valley for more than a decade.
“It’s just a classic,” Mercado said of the matchup.
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