The Rio Hondo League girls’ volleyball season has arrived as San Marino High opened league play in a road game against South Pasadena, which won its opener on the road earlier in the week.
The Tigers stood fast on their home floor, dispatching the visiting Titans 25-15, 25-19, 25-19 on Sept. 14, in a rivalry matchup.
San Marino (7-6 overall, 0-1 in league) was paced by Audrey Hoffman’s seven kills. Middle hitter Tessa Kackstetter had four kills, while Chloe Wang and Sydney Park had three and two respectively. Maddy Tang, Mira Emamaullee and Malia Yu had a kill apiece. Park and Wang also recorded an ace.
South Pasadena (8-2, 2-0), which opened league play with a sweep of Temple City on the road, was led by Jenna Garner’s 15 kills in the school home league opener. The senior additionally notched six aces, also a match-high total.
“San Marino is our rival, so it always feels good to get a win against them,” Garner said. “I think we had a tough game against Temple City [earlier] this week and we made sure to take care of that. This [match against the Titans] was just to see if we could be consistent and I think we proved that we are.”
Fellow senior Helena Foord had nine kills and four aces. Freshman Evan Taylor, sophomore Senya Dorny and senior Maggie Hunter each had two kills, while Olivia Slattery and Kezia Gavlak had one apiece. Mia Ramos contributed three aces to go along with two aces apiece from Ava Conti and Kendall Taylor. Taylor also had 16 assists.
“[The key] was just to play our game and not focus too much on what the other side can give,” South Pasadena coach Ivy Chew said.
Game two was the most competitive, with the Titans holding a lead through the early stages. The Titan lead peaked at four twice, the final time at 13-9 after a serve by Wang climbed over the tape atop the net and dropped to the floor for an ace. The final tie of the game came at 14-14 after a kill from the outside by Tiger freshman Taylor. The hosts then took the lead for good when Conti served up an ace. Later on, an ace by Ramos brought up game point and the next point sealed the win for the Tigers when San Marino hit the ball out of bounds.
“I saw a good push midway through [the match]. We were like, ‘Hey, things are working,’ and we were able to compete at a certain level, but, overall, I think our energy fizzled away, ” San Marino coach Angel Ramirez said. “I think that is going to be the focal point going into the next match is to keep the energy up.”
Game three was led by South Pasadena from start to finish. The Tigers went on a 5-0 run that included three aces by Foord to make it 11-5 and further the advantage. The Tigers continued to pull away and the cushion ballooned to double digits for the first time at 19-9 following an ace by Taylor. The lead peaked at 12 twice. A Titan miscue brought up the first match point for the hosts at 24-12 before Hoffman prolonged the match with a kill from the outside. The Titans survived the next match point on a two-touch violation by South Pasadena and a third match point on another kill from the outside by Hoffman. The hosts made good on match point four when Hunter made a block at the net to bring the match to a close.
Game one saw the Tigers surge ahead 5-0, starting with a kill and two aces from Garner. However, the visitors fought back to tie the opening game at 6-6 following a block in the middle by Tang. It was the last time game one was tied as South Pasadena pulled away from there, fueled by a 6-0 run to make it 16-9, which included two aces by Ramos and two kills by Garner. A kill from the outside by Foord brought up game point at 24-14, but Yu got a kill from the outside to prolong the game. The next point finished things when Foord killed the ball with a strike that landed deep on the Titans’ side of the court.
Despite the defeat, San Marino has its goals for league play still firmly in mind.
“We are pushing for third place overall,” Ramirez said. “I think we are going to have to play our best when it comes to playing the one and two and three seeds.”
First published in the Sept. 21 issue of the San Marino Tribune