Volleyball Girls Fall in Semis — But State Tourney Offers New Challenge

Assistant coach Lexis Evans with the South Pas volleyball Tigers. They lost at Norco on Saturday. Photo by Henk Friezer

The South Pasadena varsity girls volleyball team lost a battle, but there’s still another war to fight.

The Tigers fell 3-0 at Norco on Saturday, ending their run in the CIF Southern Section Division 4 playoffs in the semifinals — still noteworthy, as that was the deepest playoff run in school history.

But now the state tournament beckons, and there still could be some glory ahead for a formidable Tiger team that finished the regular season at 30-6 overall and 10-0 in the Rio Hondo League.

Their next game will likely be a first-round state game on Tuesday, though details will not be known until Sunday. They could travel anywhere from Northern California to San Diego.

Saturday’s game against Norco wasn’t nearly as far as that — just 50 miles or so to Riverside County, so a fair number of fans made the trip as well. But they didn’t get the same happy result they witnessed at home the previous Wednesday, when Tiger fans filled the home arena and saw their team topple Royal High in a second-round game.

The Norco match was competitive but ultimately a downer for the Tigers.

“It started off with serving errors,” coach Ivy Chew said. “We missed a lot of serves in the first set. I think that would’ve been a huge game-changer. We would’ve taken that set if we didn’t have those missed serves … unfortunately we had our little downs, but the girls — no matter what — they came out and did what they can. They put up a huge fight in this game.”

Norco went on a 4-0 run to start the set, then a 6-0 run to go up by seven points. The Tigers were able to keep it close and eventually went on a 7-0 run to tie the set at 19 a piece, but Norco got the upper hand and won the first set, 26-24.

The Tigers came out of the break determined to stay in the game and win the second set. They began clicking and it looked to be an interesting matchup. They went on a few runs and gained momentum, going up by as many as four points. But then Norco went on a 6-1 run to take a five-point lead and eventually ran away with the second set, 25-21.

The Tigers were on the brink of elimination, with a fairly large crowd in the stands cheering them on. Members of the boys basketball team, who have attended almost all of the girls’ home games, were in attendance and made it known they were going to be noisy all game long.

The third set showed promise on the Tiger side as they improved their serving and scored some points, but Norco wasn’t allowing an upset on its home court, going up in the last set by as much as 11 points. South Pasadena showed pride and heart, going on an 11-2 run to bring the set to within two points, but couldn’t score anymore and lost the final set, 25-20.

Junior Lindsey Hirano said the Tigers prepared a lot before the game.

“We rehearsed the strategy over and over again,’’ she said. “I think we just didn’t execute it the way I know we could have, which is kind of sad. We could have stayed a lot more composed during the game.”

Both captains for the Tigers, Hirano and junior Lola Foord, got injured in the final set. Hirano got hit in the head, and Foord might have landed on her ankle wrong and was limping after the game. But they both played through the set, so it’s unlikely either of them will be sidelined.

Good news for the Tigers with the state tourney up next.