Santa Monica High School’s girls’ varsity volleyball team capped a strong regular season in the Ocean League with first and second round CIF Division III playoff victories. The Vikings were finally eliminated from the playoffs by Santa Ynez High School in the third round quarterfinals last Saturday. This is the third year in a row the Vikings have made the playoffs. In both 2005 and 2006, the squad was stopped at the first round.
The Vikings overcame their first round elimination jinx with a three-game match sweep on home court against Colony High School of Ontario on Tuesday, November 6. In second round competition two days later, the Vikings defeated Apple Valley’s Granite Hills High School three games to one, also on home court. Then last Saturday, the Viking women traveled 120 miles to Santa Ynez High School, north of Santa Barbara, for the quarterfinals match. Samohi battled for a first-game victory in overtime points, 33-31. Santa Ynez rebounded for 24-26 wins in the next two games, and clinched the match with a 26-28 victory in game four. The match could not have been any closer.
With five of six starters juniors or younger, next year promises to be a strong run for Samohi’s girls’ volleyball varsity. Regulars who will be returning include setter (and all-league candidate) Jeana Schkud, Jenny Katona, Brittany Neff, Lisa Del La Puente, Heide Hillman, Autumn Kanne, and Gabby Levesque. Both the boys’ and girls’ Viking volleyball programs have thrived in recent years under head coach Liane Sato, a former member of the USA Olympics Women’s National Teams in both 1988 and 1992. In 2006, the boys’ team won the CIF Division III championship, the school’s first volleyball title in 27 years. In 2007, the boys battled back to the finals and were runners-up. Viking assistant coaches include Glen Sato and Nguyen Trinh.