Los Al volleyball reaches CIF-SS finals

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After an up and down regular season, the Los Alamitos girls volleyball team has had an up and down post season. The difference has been that the ups and downs have been in sets, but the Griffins have found ways to keep winning matches.

On Saturday, the Griffins held off Notre Dame of Sherman Oaks, 25-11, 24-26, 25-18, 25-23.

The fourth and deciding set was close throughout as neither team led by more than two points midway through the set. Notre Dame has taken a 12-10, when the Griffins went on a 5-0 run. Abby Karich started the run with a kill down the line and ended it with another kill through blockers to give Los Alamitos a 15-12 lead.

But the Knights hung tough, keeping the match within reach. Starr Williams had a big cross-court hit that found the back corner to give the Griffins a 19-16 lead.

But again, Notre Dame fought back, tying the set at 21-21. But after net serve gave the Griffins a 22-21 lead, Karich tapped a shot over a blocker for a 23-21 lead. Another kill off a block by Karich put the Griffins at match point, 24-22. Notre Dame cut the lead to 24-23, but a long hit after a rally ended the match and sent the Griffins into the finals.

Karich said that some of the team members had talked about the possibility that they had enough challenge for a CIF-SS title, but also acknowledged that they had not been as consistent as they needed. The Griffins reached the playoffs as the No. 2 team out of the Surf League.

After sweeping Tesoro in the first round, the Griffins found themselves down two sets to one against top-seeded Aliso Niguel. Karich said at that point, the team seemed to finally come together and play as a cohesive unit.

The Griffins rallied to win the second set, 25-22. After taking the fourth set, the Griffins held off the Wolverines, 15-13, to continue on in the playoffs.

“Every time we get on the court now, we give it everything we’ve got,” Karich said.

Los Alamitos was cruising early and was able to take the first set with a lop-sided score. However, after getting to set point in the second, 24-23, the Griffins let the set slip away. But they were able to regain their composure and close out the match in four.

Head Coach Dave Huber also acknowledged that the team had been up an down much of the season. But agreed that the comeback over Beckman seemed to be a catalyst to helping the Griffins grind out a five-set win over the top-seeded Wolverines.

“We’ve been really up and down, but coming back against Beckman I definitely thought was going to be a catapult for hopefully something big,” Huber said.

Huber said that the players seemed to switch their mindset late in the year, from kind of waiting for good things to happen, to a more of looking for ways to make things happen to be successful.

The Griffins have a week break before taking on Trabuco Hills on Saturday for the CIF-SS Division 2 championship. Trabuco Hills was an at-large entry out of the South Coast League, but after sweeping their opener, the Mustangs have battled through three five-set victories, including knocking off second-seeded Corona del Mar, the No. 1 team out of the Surf League.

The Griffins and Mustangs are scheduled to play at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday at Cerritos College.

Los Al volleyball reaches CIF-SS finals