CVC battles, but falls short in Division 9 final


NORWALK - A lot can change from set to set in a best-of-five volleyball match.

That was the case during Friday’s CIF-SS Division 9 girls volleyball final for both Capistrano Valley Christian and San Gabriel Academy.

CVC opened the match at Cerritos College in strong fashion, jumping out to a big lead and eventually taking the set.

After that, CVC had to fight uphill and was never able to catch up, falling to San Gabriel Academy, 25-22, 18-25, 19-25, 21-25.

Both teams will be placed in Division V for the upcoming CIF SoCal Regional and State championships.

“We were out of system and our ball control wasn’t as solid,” CVC coach Kelle Bond said of the difference following the first set. “Our attack wasn’t effective, and I feel like San Gabriel just did an incredible job keeping our offensive attacks off of the floor.

“They kept digging and digging and digging and we kept battling and battling and it was an error here and there and we weren’t able to execute.”

CVC was led by Keara Rutz’s 23 kills. Kahley Jaeke and Sofia Pluhar had nine apiece.

After the slow beginning, San Gabriel Academy coach Derek Duran was confident his team could get things turned around.

“I knew it was just nerves,” he said. “We were in the same situation in the second round, when we played Bishop Conaty (of L.A.). The good thing is when they came to us (back to the bench), I saw their faces, they were ready for the second game.”

San Gabriel Academy led from the outset of the second game, scoring six of the first seven points. CVC fought its way back into the match, cutting the score to 18-14 on a kill from Rutz. Later in the set, San Gabriel was able to extend its lead thanks to a strong serving game, picking up aces from Francine Alvarez.

It was the same script in the third and fourth sets as San Gabriel Academy jumped out to early sizable leads and Capistrano Valley Christian making late runs but ultimately coming up short.

“Primarily, we’ve been a strong serving team,” Duran said. “We knew that if we could get that going they can’t run their offense. And if you know they’re pretty much going to be down to one hitter, then we were going to be ready.”

Jennifer Lias led San Gabriel Academy with 17 kills. Jessica Choi had 14 with Daphanie Callado chipping in eight. Lias also led the way with 17 digs.

“We’ve been to the quarterfinals every year,” Duran said. “We just couldn’t get past. These girls have jelled so well together. We may not have the height that other teams do, but they know how to play well together.”

For Bond and CVC, this was their first trip to the finals. The team has just three seniors on the roster. This is Bond’s fifth year as coach.

“Players trust each other, parents and administration trust the program, so it is a collective effort,” Bond said. “The spirit of our team, although it is hard sometimes, has an eagerness to sacrifice themselves for someone else. That’s what gets you here. When you can have an eagerness to lose yourself for the sake of another, good things happen.”

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