VOLLEYBALL PLAYOFFS: Lady Cougars play in Culver City against The Archer School on Saturday ... Multiple attack helps Beaumont's trip to semifinals ... Historical triumph leaves Beaumont one win short of championship run ... Third straight playoff sweep.
Beaumont High School set history on Wednesday night in sweeping third-seeded Duarte in a CIF Southern Section Division 6 quarterfinals match.
“It’s super cool,” said Lady Cougars’ coach Jessica Granados, whose team reached Saturday’s semifinals for the first time in school history, “especially for this group (of seniors).”
Beaumont won, 25-20, 27-25, 25-23, the match-winning play coming when Lady Falcons’ top-hitting senior Nalani Young took aim on the Lady Cougars’ defense.
Beaumont’s Kylie Coon and Sabrina Garces combined to block the shot. When the ball hit the floor, eighth-ranked Beaumont had its Saturday night appearance set for the semifinals against second-seeded, Los Angeles-based The Archer School (22-5).
That 5 p.m. match is set for Park Center School in Culver City.
Duarte jumped to a quick start on the Lady Cougars’ court.
Beaumont trailed 11-4 and 16-7 before crawling back into contention, racking up a series of Duarte’s attacking miscues with points coming from Molly Watson, Garces and Coon.
Tori Echeverria cracked a 19-19 tie with a service ace.
At 20-20, Anjola Thomas’ tip found the floor, Watson found the left corner, Miranda Gates (6 kills) placed a shot into Duarte’s middle, Beaumont winning on another ace.
“I can’t say enough about our middles,” said Granados, referring to the Thomas-Garces combination. That duo, among others, slowed down one of Duarte’s top attackers, Emily Lopez, held to just eight kills.
Momentum swings come, said Beaumont’s coach, “on the timing of the play. It can come from anybody.”
It was back-and-forth momentum in crucial game two, which concluded with Garces (25-25) and Thomas (26-25) tips, a Gates kill (27-26) and, finally, Thomas was at the net to block on Dionne Zhao’s set to Luisa Echeverri for a potential game-tying point.
That shot found the net for Beaumont's winning point.
Duarte led throughout the third game until Garcia, Coon and a Thomas-Bri Rodriguez block combined to knot the score at 18-18.
Beaumont fell behind, 23-21, before Watson (25 assists, 6 aces) set Coon (9 kills, 4 blocks) for a cross-court point, that combination coming through again to tie the score (23-23).
When Young went up for her 19th kill, Coon stopped that shot at the net (24-23), leading to the match-winning play from Coon and Garces (9 kills, 3 blocks).
“We’re pretty scrappy on defense,” said Granados. “The amount of range they have on (kill shots) is pretty amazing.”
Coon is one of Granados’ seniors
Visiting Duarte (32-8) owned Beaumont’s gym in the early moments, racing to a 9-2, getting three aces, plus Young getting two of her match-high 18 kills on sharply-struck blasts.
Granados didn’t flinch.
“I already know how these kids are,” she said. “I didn’t have to call time out. It’s jitters, emotions.”
Beaumont was nearly up against area powerhouse Menifee Heritage, who dropped three straight sets against The Archer School after the Lady Patriots won the first two.
In an all-Liberty League dual, top-seeded Simi Valley Grace Brethren will play fourth-seeded Sherman Oaks Buckley in the other semifinal.
The winners play on Nov. 3 for the division championship. It was Beaumont's third straight playoff sweep, having beaten Moreno Valley and Apple Valley Granite Hills in 3-game sweep before taking on Duarte.
“This is my first group of seniors that have gone all four years with me,” said Granados, in her fourth season as coach, “which is why this is special; to set history like this.”