First published in the Oct. 22 print issue of the South Pasadena Review.
Even behind senior Abby Garner’s career-high 25 kills, South Pasadena High School’s varsity girls’ volleyball team was edged by visiting La Cañada in five sets, 25-19, 19-25, 20-25, 25-13, 15-7 in a match between the Rio Hondo League’s two top teams.
“With the experience that [Abby] had for the past four years with me, she definitely really helped carry this team today,” said Ivy Chew, South Pasadena’s head coach. “She helped carry the energy and led by example on the court.”
With the loss against the Rio Hondo League champion Spartans, the Tigers finished second with a 6-2 record (33-7 overall). Their only two league losses were at the hands of La Cañada.
The rematch between the two powerhouse rivals took place on Senior Night, as SPHS recognized Kennedy Taylor, Alyssa Sokolow, Samantha Molina, Evelyn Dowd and Abby. The five seniors were introduced with their families before the match, with special video tributes shown at the end of the contest.
Molina recorded 20 assists with three aces while Taylor finished with 26 assists. Dowd added two kills and four total blocks.
“Every single senior that stepped on the court played their heart out,” Chew said.
Although the Tigers dropped the first set, they came right back to win the next two.
The second set was competitive as there were six ties and four lead changes. With the score at 19 apiece, Kennedy’s kill broke the tie, then Abby’s kill, Dowd’s block and La Cañada’s three missed attempts accounted for the rest of the Tigers’ six consecutive points to win, 25-19.
With the match tied 1-1 heading into the third set, Abby’s set-high 11 kills helped South Pasadena win a crucial game, 25-20.
Similarly, the third set was tight as La Cañada managed to tie it 10 times. Ultimately, the Tigers pulled away with a victory when Abby broke a 19-19 tie. She added two additional kills followed by two LCHS missed kill attempts to set up sophomore Ingrid Zahn’s set-winning ace.
SPHS made the fifth set interesting with a chance to beat La Cañada. The Tigers bounced back to tie the set, 3-3, behind Zahn and sophomore Jenna Garner’s combined three kills. Abby’s three consecutive kills gave the Tigers their first lead of the set at 6-4.
La Cañada scored 10 consecutive times before Abby recorded the Tigers’ final regular-season kill en route to a 15-7 set loss.
The Tigers also lost the fourth game by a wide margin, 25-13, but Zahn, Abby and Jenna combined for seven kills in the set.
Jenna had three aces, seven kills and one assist, while Zahn had six kills and two aces. Sophomore Mia Ramos also added one ace.
The Tigers lost their first-round CIF-SS Division 2 playoff match against host Great Oak on Thursday, Oct. 21, in three sets, 16-25, 17-25, 15-25.