Katella's Jennifer Bautista and Mylei Vargas-Deason go up for a block during Friday's match. Katella was playing Grace Brethren in the CIF-SS Division 8 championship at Cerritos College. on Friday, November 11, 2016. (Photo by bill alkofer,, orange county register/SCNG)

Katella sees dream season end with loss in final


NORWALK – Katella senior opposite hitter Gabriela Meza didn’t expect her senior season to extend all the way to the CIF-SS finals.

Meza and her teammates had survived the Orange League undefeated and Friday they took on Grace Brethren of Simi Valley in the CIF-SS Division 8 girls volleyball championship match.

“We don’t start off thinking we’re going to go to the finals,” Meza said. “We start off thinking we’re going to come out and try our hardest throughout the season, and when we get into playoffs, we want to continue to fight hard.”

Katella’s fire and fight ran out Friday as second-seeded Grace Brethren, prevailed, 25-21, 25-9, 25-9, at Cerritos College.

“Coming here is a blessing,” Meza said. “For us, we didn’t expect to go the finals, and to go to the finals and to see so many people out here, means a lot and warms our heart.

The Knights had the lead early in the first set, but fell behind 15-11 on an ace. Trailing 20-16, Katella scored three consecutive points, forcing Grace Brethren into a timeout. That was as close as the Knights would get.

The Lancers jumped out to a 7-1 lead in the second set and 10-0 in the third on their way to the victory.

“I’ve been coaching for 25 years and I’ve never come close (to the finals),” Katella coach Mary Starbuck said. “It’s been an honor to take a little upstart team that didn’t have a lot of expectations when the season started, but found their chemistry and got their mojo together and figured it out.”

Sophomore outside hitter Mylei Vargas-Deason led the Knights with six saves. Vargas-Deason also led the team with 14 digs.

Both teams are slated to participate in the Division IV for the CIF Regional and State championships, which start next week. Pairings will be released Sunday afternoon.

The goal for the Knights is simple.

“We want to just try our hardest,” Meza said. “We want to play hard and see how far we can get.”

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