Story by: Zoe Chen
Photo by: Shin-Hye (Rachel) Choi
Girls volleyball defeated the La Cañada Spartans for the first time in five years during the teams’ final league matchup of the season. All three sets of the game were extremely close, with multiple passing 25, but the Tigers’ two-point leads led them to a 3-0 victory against the Spartans. The Tigers now share first place in the Rio Hondo League.
“It’s been our goal these past years to beat them, so it was just so rewarding,” senior outside hitter Helena Foord said. “I think our chemistry on the court and our hard work in practice really paid off.”
The entirety of the first set was extremely close, with the teams’ scores never differing by more than a few points. An out-of-bounds serve by the Spartans gained the Tigers the first point of the set, and when Foord and sophomore middle hitter Senya Dorny jumped to block a Spartan kill, the score rose to 3-1. However, La Cañada kills soon tied the score at 3-3, and for the remainder of the set, it seemed that every time one team gained a point, the other was close to follow. After falling behind slightly, a kill by senior opposite hitter Ingrid Zahn brought the Tigers’ score back up 9-9. Ties repeatedly occurred, happening at 13-13, 15-15, 17-17, and 23-23.
A kill by Foord set the Tigers up to win, 24-23, but a fumble allowed the Spartans a point, 24-24. A netted La Cañada serve gained South Pasadena a point, but a South Pasadena misstep tied the score again at 25-25. This back and forth kept up for the next few rallies, stakes high each time a team won a rally. The set finally concluded after an out-of-bounds Spartan serve was directly followed by a block from senior setter Kendall Taylor, putting the score at 29-27 and winning the Tigers the first set.
“I think that we came in with the mindset that they were beatable,” Taylor said. “They were a team that we’d been working so hard to beat, and we just played together as a team.”
The Tigers entered the second set with energy, defending their lead well and not allowing the Spartans to gain a single point over them. A kill by senior outside hitter Jenna Garner followed by a block from senior middle blocker Maggie Hunter put the Tigers ahead 4-0. A great save by junior libero Ava Conti combined with a Spartan slip up then raised the score to 8-2, prompting the Spartans to call a timeout.
A strong kill by Zahn added to the Tigers’ tally, and when Garner served an ace — the first of the match — the Tigers led by nine points, 11-2. With strong kills, South Pasadena kept a steady lead until 16-8, when a concerned La Cañada called another timeout.
The Spartans returned with stronger plays than before, but they were unable to gain enough points to pull ahead of the Tigers. At 20-18, two consecutive kills from Garner then Hunter put the Tigers in the position to win. A Tiger block sent the ball suspensefully teetering on the net before falling on the Spartans’ side, and with a final tip from Foord, the second set went to the Tigers 25-19.
Eager Tiger players stepped back onto the court after the three-minute break, ready to give what would become the final set their all. The third set sent the teams into a loop of back and forth gains, creating a climatic finish to the match.
A block by Hunter gained the Tigers the first point, but a Spartan kill evened the score out at 1-1. A kill by Zahn gave the Tigers another slight advantage, but the La Cañada blockers countered that again, tying the score at 3-3.
A tip from Foord gave the Tigers yet another slight advantage, but this time the Tigers were able to hold onto it, advancing on the Spartans 9-5 after a Garner kill. A kill by Zahn again raised the score, this time to 15-12, and a strong ace by senior defense specialist Mia Ramos neared the Tigers to 20. However, La Cañada managed to slowly catch up, resulting in a suspenseful 21-21 tie. The teams once again returned to their neck-and-neck loop, tying again at 22-22, 23-23, and 24-24.
A final block by Dorny put the Tigers at 25-24, and when both Garner and Dorny jumped to block the ball, the set was finally won in the Tigers’ favor, 26-24. This concluded the match as well, awarding the Tigers a 3-0 win.
“It’s the last year for my seniors, so for my seniors it’s kind of like, just leave everything on the court and see where it goes from there,” Head Coach Ivy Chew said. “And they got exactly where they wanted.”
The Tigers now stand in a position to tie with La Cañada for first in the league.