RANCHO KUKAMOMGA – Alta Loma girls volleyball coach Cindy Gurney outlined the scenario for her team last week.
“Before we played Claremont on Friday, I told them we had to win the last two games to make the playoffs,” Gurney said. “So I just asked them, ‘Do you want to go to CIF or graduate in the next week? “”
For the first to happen, Alta Loma had to change the results of their previous matches against Claremont and Bonita. The Braves took care of business at Claremont and did the same at home on Wednesday night, knocking Bonita 25-23, 20-25, 25-18, 25-22 in a Palomares league match to secure a playoff spot.
Alta Loma (19-12, 7-3 in the league) did have a chance to claim his share of the league title on Wednesday, but the Braves would have needed Claremont to beat Glendora to create a four-game draw at the top of the league table. Glendora defeated the wolf pack and finally won the championship. Alta Loma and Bonita (20-9, 7-3) finished in a draw and finished second. Both teams will be No. 2 in the playoffs because they are in different divisions.
Alta Loma used a tight serve and stellar back row guard to take the lead in the first set. The Braves had to fight at the end of the set, as Bonita hit three set points before the set ended due to a hit error. Senior center blocker Jessica Vartanen and senior striker Karissa Grums have committed seven murders together.
In the second set, Bonita took the lead 8-2, scoring three points from the junior setter’s aces against Trinity Carroll and junior defender Payton Baumank. Sophomore Stephanie Groswirth ignored the slow start and recorded seven kills on 12 attacking attempts in a set to help the trot line up the match.
Alta Loma controlled the third set from the start, going 6-1 ahead. Vartanen and fellow center blocker, sophomore Valerie Gallegos, had seven kills in total and only one hitting mistake on 16 hits in that game.
“When we can really involve our central players in the attack, it really matters,” Gurney said.
Bonita had a 10-2 lead in game four, and another five-set combination between the two seemed inevitable. Alta Loma pulled away and eventually led 18-17 after killing senior striker Charlotte Tate.
“If there’s one thing we can really do is resist,” Tate said. “We just tried to stay positive.”
Bonita deflected a couple of match points, but Grooms closed the adult’s overnight win with her fourth kill.
“It means so much to winning high school,” Groom said. “None of us know when our last match will take place. I’m not going to play after school, so this one was really special. We all had a lot of fun today. “
Groswirth finished with 19 kills and three aces, putting Bonita to the top of the standings. Senior striker Jackie Solana recorded 11 kills for the Bearcats, while junior setter opposite Ellie Rohrer added 9 kills.
Young setter Alt Loma Ashley Arthur played a balanced attacking game on Wednesday. Vartanen led the lead with 14 kills, but Tate (eight kills), Gallegos (six kills), and sophomore versus Erika Vartanen (six kills, four aces) also shone occasionally. Arthur also chose moments to attack and ended the match with seven kills.
Gurney will be retiring from coaching at the end of the season, so she is excited about making the playoffs.
“Everyone keeps telling me that I will be back. But no, I definitely finished after this season, ”said Gurney, who won 610 matches in her two periods as head coach of the program.
“Today was a tough day because it was my last prom night,” Gurney continued, holding back tears. “I love the way they have fought these last matches to earn the playoff spot they deserve. I hope they are doing well. “
The players were happy to give their coach at least one more playoff match.
“She meant so much to this school and program. She really deserves it, ”said Groom.