Spartans Clinch League Title, Open CIF Playoffs

First published in the Oct. 21 print issue of the Outlook Valley Sun.

La Cañada High School’s varsity girls’ volleyball team was crowned Rio Hondo League champions for the first time since 2017 as it rallied to defeat host South Pasadena in five sets, 25-19, 19-25, 20-25, 25-13 and 15-7.
The Spartans concluded the regular season with a perfect 8-0 league record (28-4 overall).
“We faced adversity tonight, and to see [our team] come out in that fourth set, after going down two sets to one, to come out and push a fifth and use that momentum to win, I couldn’t be prouder,” said Laura Browder, La Cañada’s head coach.
The match was tied at one game apiece headed into the third set. La Cañada senior Olivia Toland had seven kills in a crucial set that went in South Pasadena’s favor, 25-20. Toland recorded a team-high 25 kills, nine digs, two aces and two assisted blocks in the match.
The Spartans kept the third set within three points but failed to gain a lead. However, LCHS managed to tie it twice when sophomore Haley Clark blocked a kill attempt and later recorded a kill to even the score.
In the fifth set, South Pasadena missed a key opportunity when a failed kill attempt stopped the momentum and gave the Spartans a 7-6 lead.
La Cañada took advantage and ran away with a 14-7 lead, highlighted by Clark’s three kills, senior Allie Landa’s block and junior Nikki Hughes’ ace.
Clark landed the final kill of the match to win it for the Spartans, 15-7. She had a fine evening with 12 kills, 13 digs, three total blocks and two aces in five sets.
“[Clark] is a kid that we’ve asked to play on the left even though she is left-handed and, like I always say, great players elevate when needed, and those last two sets, she was making really good decisions offensively, with her block and her serve,” Browder said.
The Spartans had tied the match with a fourth set blowout victory, 25-13. Three kills and an ace by Toland, and two kills by both Landa and Hughes, in addition to missed kill attempts by South Pasadena, saw LCHS gain a commanding 15-5 lead. Hughes and Toland tallied a combined six additional kills in the set, and freshman Katie McGuinness blocked a kill attempt.
Landa recorded 41 assists, 13 digs and three kills, while Hughes had 12 kills, seven digs, two aces and one assisted block. McGuinness added four total blocks and one kill.
Sophomore Chloe Nussbaum had a team-high 15 digs, four assists and one ace, while senior Kylie Sears recorded one block assist and one dig. Sophomore Tatum Purdy had one dig.