VOLLEYBALL PLAYOFFS: Lady Broncos swept in Temecula … Digs, service aces, sets and kill shots left Lady Cougars headed for Apple Valley.
BEAUMONT -- Southern Section Division 6 playoff action opened with an easy round against visiting Moreno Valley High School on Thursday night.
Beaumont High’s 25-13, 25-20, 25-17 sweep lifted the Lady Cougars into the second round in a Saturday night showdown (6 o’clock) at Apple Valley Granite Hills, who has won 21 out of 25 matches so far this season.
In Thursday night’s win over Moreno Valley, the Lady Cougars (17-5) used serving as a weapon. Balls were flying into a Lady Viking receiving corps that was unable to handle.
Throw in Beaumont’s power game, largely behind Anjola Thomas, Kylie Coon, plus Miranda Gates and Sabrina Garces.
Behind the service line, however, was where Beaumont stood out.
Beyond the 12 aces from eight different strikes, Beaumont’s services into the Lady Vikings’ receive lines went fiercely uncontested, the returns turning into a variety of free balls for Lady Cougar attacks.
Bri Rodriguez delivered three aces with Tori Echevarria and Molly Watson landed two apiece.
Even when services didn’t land for aces, Mo Val’s serve-receives were weakly returned, leaving Beaumont in control.
Attacks came from everywhere -- Garces, Coon and Thomas with 10 each, plus five more from Gates -- which leaves upcoming blockers with a variety of right arms to account for.
Those attacks were set by a trio of hands, namely Watson, Alexia Ramirez and Kirsten Jones each taking turns at setter.
Anyone in Beaumont’s back row -- Coon, Gates, Echevarria and Claire Goetz, among others -- handled virtually every Moreno Valley attack.
The Lady Cougars’ most powerful brand of play came midway in the second game while overcoming a 5-2 deficit.
Rodriguez and Garces blocked a Mo Val attack, Gates and Thomas following suit on the next point. Jones set Gates to knot the score at 5-5.
Thomas’ tip, followed by a determined blast and a Rodriguez ace set up, perhaps, the most powerful point of the match.
Gates’ dig went to Jones, who set Thomas at the middle. The ball found the floor before a single Mo Val defender could react, leaving Beaumont with a 9-6 lead.
The match ended when Ramirez delivered an ace.
Granite Hills (20-4) won the Desert Sky League championship, which doesn’t compare with Beaumont’s Mountain Pass League.
Not a single team was found in the various division Top 10 polls in the season’s final rankings.
The Mountain Pass League, meanwhile, had No. 2 Hemet (Div. 5), No. 8 Beaumont (Div. 6) and No. 8 Hemet West Valley (Div. 7) -- three teams that played its way into the elite.
Granite Hills’ four losses have come against Mission Hills Alemany and Barstow, with losses to Rialto and San Bernardino Cajon in tournament play.
Aquinas beat Granite Hills in last year’s opening round.
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Division 7 top-seeded Temecula Linfield Christian swept Banning, 25-10, 25-16, 25-16 eliminating the Lady Broncos from the playoffs. The Lady Lions advanced to the next round against Miramonte League champion Bassett.
“Linfield,” said Banning coach Sarah Rike, “was amazing.”
Banning’s season concluded with a 16-6 record, finishing third in the Desert Valley League.
Banning league rival Yucca Valley advanced, beating Riverside North in four games in Division 6 play.
Thermal Coachella Valley, which tied Yucca Valley for the Desert Valley League championship, scored a win over San Jacinto Valley Academy in Division 8 play.