First published in the Sept. 9 print issue of the Outlook Valley Sun.
The girls’ volleyball rivalry between Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy and La Cañada High School reignited on Sept. 1 after the COVID-19 pandemic doused it the year prior, and it did not disappoint.
LCHS sparked the flames by sweeping host FSHA in three sets by scores of 25-21, 25-23 and 25-15.
This was the first time since 2012 that FSHA had lost at home to its intracity rival.
La Cañada (8-2 overall record) controlled the first set nearly the entire way until the Tologs (4-2 record) mounted a brief comeback. FSHA scored six consecutive points, two from outside hitter Nikki Garriola, narrowing the deficit before LCHS pulled out the victory, 25-21.
Set two was much more exciting, as the teams played tug of war for the lead. FSHA and LCHS traded scores until they were even at 20; that’s when Garriola had an excellent kill to take back the lead, 21-20. Then, facing a 23-20 deficit, LCHS scored five consecutive points to win, 25-23.
In the third set, an ace by libero Chloe Nussbaum helped La Canada gain an 18-11 lead. La Cañada’s outside hitter Olivia Toland led the offensive onslaught in the third set with nine kills in 13 attempts en route to a 25-15 win.
“Olivia Toland … came through a lot with her back row attack and her front row,” said Laura Browder, La Cañada’s head volleyball coach. “Really utilized the fact that FSHA was running a five-one [rotation] and so once we saw that, we were hitting over her setter as much as we could.”
Including her third set outburst, Toland recorded 21 kills in 41 attempts, nearly half of the team total (44). Teammates opposite hitter Nikki Hughes, outside hitter Haley Clark, and middle blockers Kylie Sears and Katie McGuinness had 11, nine, two and one kills, respectively.
Setting up a majority of La Cañada’s kills were setters Allie Landa (28) and Tatum Purdy (nine), who combined for 37 of the team’s 42 assists. Nussbaum had three assists while Toland and libero Taylor Dobbs had one each.
“Really, really proud of both [Landa and Purdy] being highly efficient,” Browder said. “I also just want to give a huge shout-out to our freshman libero Taylor Dobbs. She came in and got to play a full set of libero, something we’ve been working toward in practice. I saw a lot of greatness happening, so shout out to my little freshman.”
In Landa’s 17 serving attempts, she committed zero errors and scored four aces. Outside hitter Kate Shaw, Dobbs and Toland supplied one ace each, while Nussbaum had two. As a team, LCHS only committed seven errors in 73 serving attempts.
In the losing effort, FSHA head volleyball coach Trent Tcheng said he was pleased with several of his players’ performances. However, he said the team is slightly out of rhythm, with school starting again.
“Honestly, we just didn’t control our side of the net,” Tcheng said. “La Cañada put up some nice, big swings, but it’s nothing we haven’t seen before.”
FSHA outside hitter Peyton DeJardin put up another stellar line with 17 kills, while teammates Garriola and middle hitter Piper Scherbert had 13 and six, respectively.
“I thought Piper did a really good job,” Tcheng said. “Being a freshman, coming from club to high school, it’s a huge jump. She’s getting better every single game, she got her hands on a couple of hard swings from [La Cañada’s] Olivia and Haley, and she’s learning to make herself more available offensively.”
FSHA setter Milena Andrade led the team in assists with 25, helping the Tologs stay competitive throughout the match. Emily Smith and liberos Lindsey Du and Caitlin Du collected seven, two and one assists, respectively.
LCHS is scheduled to compete in a tournament at Whittier High School today and Friday. The opening opponent and game time have yet to be determined.
FSHA hosted San Marino High in a nonleague match Tuesday, Sept. 7. The result was not available by the Outlook’s press deadline. The Tologs are scheduled to play Notre Dame of Sherman Oaks on the road in their first league game of the season today, Sept. 9, at 6 p.m.