By JOSHUA SO
On Thursday, October 24th, Cerritos High school students, parents, and supporters packed the stands to cheer the Cerritos High Dons Girls’ Varsity Volleyball team in its first-round CIF victory over the Santa Barbara Dons.
The Cerritos Dons, who had just finished their league 10-0, are ranked 155th in California compared to Santa Barbara at 379th. Despite the ranking disparity, both teams would fight their hardest in this high-stakes game. While Santa Barbara started out strong with a 7-1 lead, the Cerritos Dons would chip away at the lead throughout the set until the game was tied 23 all.
In large part due to the strong, consistent serves of team captain Emily Passion (Sr.), the Dons were able to take the first set 25-23. 1-0 Dons.
The second set, characterized by back and forth multi-point runs, would end in a 25-23 win for Santa Barbara.
Consistent kills from Chisomam Agaranna (Sr.), Cindy Byun (Sr.), and Karina Gatewood (Jr.), contributed to a set of consistent sideouts in the third set. Ultimately, the Cerritos Dons were able to edge out a 25-23 win.
After 3 sets, fatigue on both sides of the court started to set in and the Cerritos Dons relied on the defense and powerful serves of Angela Mathai (Sr.), Maile Grace Tabon (Jr.), and Leanna Tolentino (So.) to keep going but Santa Barbara took the set.
The 5th and final set was neck and neck, each side unwilling to give an inch up until the score was 9-8 Cerritos. The Cerritos Dons finally broke away as team captain Nicole Blue (Sr. led the team to a 15-9 5th set victory with consistent serving and a strong back-row attack. In the end, the Cerritos Dons looked to her to score the final point.
In a post-game interview, setter team captain Emily Passion said she attributes the team’s success to “all the support on the home side” and “the energy that we bring to the table.” Cerritos Varsity Volleyball coach David Cuthbert added that the team “relied on senior leadership, especially from our setter” […] “it was good for us to feel the pressure.”
The Cerritos Dons return to the court this Saturday, October 26th, as they move onto the second round of CIF playoffs.