By Michael Vann
The girlsâ volleyball teamâs start to its season, highlighted by a second place finish in the Dave Mohs tournament, has brought the team to a second place ranking in CIF Division I-A. The Wolverines are one of the top contenders to win a Division I title, which would be only the third Division I team title in school history.
The Wolverines play in the Dave Mohs tournament officially put the team on the map as a team to be reckoned with in Division 1. The Wolverines have been competing in the tournament since 1996 and had never made it past the quarterfinal round. The tournament is regarded as one of the top three high school tournaments on a national level.
After winning its first two matches in pool play, the Wolverines advanced to the round of 16 where the team had a huge victory over Lakewood, ranked 8th in division 1-AA. The program finally got over the hurdle of losing in the quarterfinal round with a 25-15, 25-23 victory over Santa Margarita.
The biggest win for the team this season came in the semifinals over Esperanza, the fifth ranked team in CIF Division 1-AA, 25-23, 25-19.
The victory over Esperanza set up a showdown with Laguna Beach high school, the top ranked team in division 1-AA. The Wolverines lost an extremely tight three game match 25-23, 21-25, 15-12.
“The loss really just came down to passing,” coach Jess Quiroz said. “Whoever blinked first was going to win. It was that intense.”
Part of the reason for the Wolverines unprecedented success this season has been the addition of middle hitter Audrey Eichler â07. Eichler, who has verbally committed to Boston College for next season, was forced to sit out her junior year after transferring from Marymount.
“Eichler adds steadiness to the team,” Quiroz said. “She plays with confidence and a lot of poise.”
Eichler immediately made her presence felt in the teamâs first match at rival Brentwood on Sept. 7. The match was hardly a contest as the Wolverines won 25-21, 25-13, 25-14. Outside hitter Brittany Julian â07 led the team with seven kills and Eichler recorded six.
Julian, KC Kanoff â08 and team captain Kaitlin Segal â07 form what Quiroz believes is one of the best trios of outside hitters in all of Southern California.
The Wolverines next test outside of tournament play came at home Sept. 21 against Notre Dame Academy. Notre Dame Academy defeated the girlsâ volleyball team in a five game nail biter in the finals of CIF Division 3 playoffs last year. However, the Wolverines exacted revenge on their opponent as they won three games 25-17, 25-22, 25-20.
The Wolverines have got off to a 2-1 start in Mission League play and added to their overall record of 15-4.
Julian posted seven kills and setter Katherine Sebastian â08 dished out 18 assists and four aces in a three game victory over league opponent Alemany.
The Wolverines lone loss in Mission League play came at Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy on Oct. 4.
The Tologs brought their Mission League winning streak to 29 matches with a 25-21, 19-25, 25-22, 25-19 victory.
This loss along with a loss to Marymount dropped the Wolverines from first place into second place in their CIF poll.
“Flintridge played steady and smart,” Quiroz said. “We didnât play our A-game, but you have to give them credit because they played really well.”
Despite the loss to the Tologs, the Wolverines are still considered a top contender for a CIF title because of their talent and depth.
“We definitely have the talent,” Quiroz said. “We have the middle hitters (Eichler and Katherine Quinn â08) and great outside hitters. The girls just need to realize how good we are and relax on the court.”
The teamâs next game is tomorrow against Chaminade.
The Wolverines exhibited their depth as they crushed Louisville in the teamâs last match 25-11, 25-9, 25-13. The team rotated its reserves into the match in the third game and the reserves outplayed Louisvilleâs starters. Opposite Alexa Bagnard â08 served two aces and Kasey Kissick â08 had 4 kills.
Seniors Lauren Newhouse â07, Bianca Wilson â07, Taylor Morgan â07, and Rachel Yorke â07 have brought leadership and experience to the team. Wilson has made the difficult transition from outside hitter to defensive specialist look easy. Morgan and Yorke split time at the libero position and have both improved their play as they push each other in practice.