UPDATE: Tuesday’s game against Palm Desert will be held at the South Pasadena High School Main Gym at 6:00 p.m.
Fighting off elimination, South Pasadena High’s girls’ volleyball team battled back from a two set deficit Saturday night to win three in a row and advance to the CIF Division III State Regional Finals.
After dispatching Linfield Christian 3-2 in the state semifinal match, the Tigers will host Palm Desert Tuesday night in their quest for the state crown. With major construction set to begin Monday on the South Pasadena High athletic facilities, including the school’s two gymnasiums, the location of the game, slated for 6 p.m., is still in question.
“I can’t confirm it’s at our gym until Monday,” said SPHS Athletic Director Anthony Chan, who is working with local school officials to see if construction can be delayed one day in order to accommodate the game at South Pasadena High.
The Tigers found themselves in a deep hole, losing the first two sets 25-21 and 26-24 before getting back in the match with a lopsided 25-19 victory. Next came a 25-21 win to extend it, setting up a climaxing final set, South Pasadena finally shutting the door 15-13.
“I’m super excited for the girls because we were down two sets and they could have easily walked away losing in three sets but they had the mentality to keep fighting,” said South Pasadena Coach Ivy Chew. “That was my most favorite moment [of the match].”
The raucous home crowd set off a loud roar, full of enthusiasm, in support of the Tigers when it was over.
Big shots, digs, spikes and strong offensive and defensive play throughout the match came from those who Chew has counted on all season long. Abby Garner, Carrie Fleming, Alyssa Sokolow, Katharine Florence, Lindsey Hirano, Lola Foord, Sydney Abundo, Erin Hughes, Lexi Schoeder, Mikaela Noonan, Ava Dorny, Kennedy Taylor, Ashley Fox, and Sofia Reyes have played key roles in the Tigers state title run.
“I think all the girls stepped in and played really well,” said Chew. “There was not specifically one person. Everyone on the court executed exactly what we needed.”
The Tigers reached the semis with a 3-set victory last Thursday night over Valhalla at home. Earlier in the week, South Pasadena got past Cleveland of Reseda in four sets to open the state tournament.
South Pasadena improved to 36-7 with Saturday’s victory while the Linfield Christian ended its season at 27-4.
The Tigers made a historic run, becoming the first South Pasadena High team to ever reach the CIF-Southern Section Division 4 Semifinals. South Pasadena, which completed a perfect 10-0 Rio Hondo League record to qualify for CIF, was swept in three sets by Norco on November 2.
Then came the invitation to play for the state championship based on an outstanding season, and the Tigers jumped at the opportunity.
“This team means the world to me,” said Chew, talking about the overall success of the team this season. “The girls have a special bond with each other, myself and my coaches that can’t compare to anything else.”
Chew is also mindful of those who have spurred on the team throughout the nonleague and league play, CIF action and now at the prestigious state competition level.
“Thank you for all the support you have been giving us,” she said of the strong community support over the past several months. “It has been great.”
Now Chew hopes her players have one more victory in them and will bring a state championship in girls’ volleyball back to South Pasadena.