Alemany girls volleyball digs deep for rare win over Harvard-Westlake – Daily News

MISSION HILLS — There’s a different air around the Alemany girls volleyball team this year. It comes from a combination of a grit and confidence after reaching the Division III state regional finals last year.

The Warriors needed both while hosting Harvard-Westlake and trailing big in the fourth set Tuesday night. Instead of panic, they found resolve.

Alemany rallied to win the set and claim a 25-23, 18-25, 25-23, 26-24 Mission League victory, which allowed the Warriors to remain unbeaten and defeat Harvard-Westlake for the first time since 1995.

Not only did Alemany (25-0 overall, 3-0) overcome a 19-10 deficit in the fourth, they held off three set points to force a tie and ended the match on a 5-0 run.

“If we want to win state, we have to show we’re a better team than last year,” senior S’Mara Riley said. “We have the talent and we know how to handle pressure.”

The toughness showed when Alemany led 24-20 in the first before Harvard-Westlake rallied with three consecutive points. It was exhibited again in the third when Harvard-Westlake was down 21-17, only to rally and force a 23-all tie.

Each time, Alemany stood firm and did not wilt. Even when down in the fourth, the Warriors relied on building each other up and finding ways to win points.

“We’re just able to say what needs to be said to get the job done,” junior Annah Rivera said.

Rivera had a team-high 22 kills, the only Warriors player in double figures. Riley, usually among the team leader in kills per game, focused on blocking as the Chaminade transfer had seven blocks along with Ruth Kayongo.

Renee Wheeler had five blocks and Tia Johnson had six of the Warriors’ 16 aces.

Harvard-Westlake, which handily defeated Alemany twice last year, struggled with its serving early by missing three in the first set, but rebounded to play a cleaner second set. Chloe Mueller had four kills early in the fourth to help the Wolverines (13-6, 0-1) jump out to a lead but mistakes came back to haunt them.

“The match should’ve been like it was in the second and the start of the fourth,” Harvard-Westlake coach Hayley Blanchard said. “We were unfocused and we didn’t give our full effort.”
Lindsay Kelly had 50 assists and Isabel Wiatt had 14 digs. Bella Hedley had 14 kills.

Alemany will face defending league champion Marymount on Monday in another league test. But after defeating Nevada state champion Bishop Gorman, and now Harvard-Westlake, its new attitude means it will not be intimidated.

“They’ve got a chip on their shoulder and they’re not scared of the dogfight,” Alemany coach Morgan Wijay said.

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