Last year, Pacifica Christian experienced heartache and sadness at the end of the CIF Southern Section Division 4A championship match with Rolling Hills Prep. This year, the Seawolves were on the end of another set of feelings as they trumped Laguna Blanca for the CIF Southern Section 4A volleyball championship.
This time those feelings were of joy and excitement as the Seawolves defeated the team that beaten them earlier in the season in four sets, dropping Laguna Blanca, 25-23, 25-20, 18-25 and 25-19.
“I think we came out with fire,” said Maile Lane. “We have experience in the finals and we know what that is like what Laguna Blanca is feeling right now to lose. We used that to motivate us, to play well and to play as a team.”
After having a dominant season last year, the Seawolves entered the contest as the team to beat. Rolling Hills Prep defeated Pacifica Christian in five sets, snatching the CIF title away from the Seawolves, and snatching away their dreams of winning a title. The Seawolves certainly were reminded of that feeling when they went up against a top-ranked Laguna Blanca team on Saturday.
Lane said the team played hard for those who didn’t a chance of experiencing winning the championship.
“We had to do those people justice, to show we deserved it,” Lane said.
Sometimes the road to winning a title gets complicated with major obstacles to climb. Coach Julie Bennett’s team did that and more when they went out and beat Laguna Blanca at Cerritos College.
Pacifica Christian had to defeat Cate, a team that had beaten them earlier this season, just to get to the title round. Next on the docket for the Seawolves was to take out Laguna Blanca, which had whipped them in three sets early in the season as well.
The Seawolves won the title by taking it right at Laguna Blanca, winning the first two sets with aggressive play at the net. It started with the Seawolves’ top players Lane and Grace Minchin leading the way. Both Lane and Minchin were dominant in their play. Right from the beginning of the first set, Pacifica Christian was the most aggressive and animated team.
For most of the afternoon, the Owls couldn’t match the energy that the Seawolves were putting out. More or less, that turned out to be the difference between winning and losing. And that was pretty much was the tone-setter for the afternoon. The Owls came back to win the third sets, setting up a tense fourth set. If the Owls had won the fourth set, the outcome could have been up in the air for a fifth and deciding one.
Lane said team wasn’t about to let that happen.
“I knew we were going to come back and win the fourth game,” Lane said. “I knew we were going to do it. I had no doubt about it at all. Most of us were there last year, and we knew we could not let that happen.”
The win brought on great joy for Bennett, in her first year as head coach.
“It feels fantastic,” Bennett said. “The girls worked so hard and really, truly deserve this. I’m really proud of them.”
Bennett said last year’s heartbreaker was an extra motivator for her team.
“Since the beginning of the season, we’ve been talking about to remember that feeling of what it felt like to be there and being so close and not to win,” she said.