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Whittier Christian eliminated in four sets
RIVERSIDE – After his team dropped the second set of Tuesday's Division II CIF state opener, Whittier Christian coach Shawn Hunter spent a good two minutes of the between-sets break sitting in the chair furthest away from his girls.
At about the one-minute mark, he calmly entered the makeshift circle his team had since formed and proceeded to do what good coaches tend to do in tough spots ... coach.
The Heralds' ensuing two-point victory was the lone triumph in a 20-25, 19-25, 28-26, 21-25 loss to host M.L. King of Riverside, but the spirited resolve shown throughout that particular set was exactly what Hunter wanted to see.
"We felt like our execution was a little diminished because of their size," he said. "I think that got into our heads a little early on so we wanted to refocus, put pressure on them and fight to take a game."
Kylee Wolfe (20 kills), Stephanie Stevenson (15) and Deanna Blaine (14) led the CIF-SS Division 2A champions in kills. Jennifer Washle finished with 53 assists and Nicole Santos added 30 digs.
After seizing the early lead in the third set, Whittier Christian (35-5) crossed the 20-point plateau for the first time all match.
"Their size made it more difficult to execute," Hunter said. "Their blocking was a bit of a detriment, but all we could do was play defense and execute our shots."
Behind a 6-1 run, M.L. King (27-7) took a slim 23-22 advantage before the Heralds fought back for set points at 24, 25, 26 and, finally, 27.
"We're a loose team," Hunter said. "I don't think we played to the best of our ability in the CIF championship because we were a little tight. We wanted to come back tonight and regain that looseness."