By STEVE GALLUZZO | Sports Editor
A season that started outdoors ended inside for the Palisades Dolphins: in their own banner-filled gym. Yet another girls volleyball title will hang on the wall—making that 31 and counting—after a surprisingly easy 25-17, 25-15, 25-18 sweep of Granada Hills in the City Section Open Division final last Saturday afternoon at Palisades High.
Though the victory celebration was somewhat subdued with only one-fourth of the bleachers full, the Dolphins nevertheless accomplished another first—winning the championship right there on campus.
In many ways, this was the most satisfying of the seven City titles Coach Carlos Gray has won in his eight years at Palisades (four with the boys, three with the girls) because of all the hurdles he and his players had to clear along the way.
“The hardest part was not practice itself but getting players here,” Gray said. “The kids had virtual studies, then had to hustle to campus at random—it was tough,” Gray said. “Also, it was hard not having junior varsity because I’d have 18-24 girls showing up.”
The only real drama Saturday came in the third set when Granada Hills rallied from seven points down to take a 17-15 lead, but Palisades sided out and freshman Carly Bloom stepped up to the service line.
“Since I don’t really serve that often I felt it was kind of my chance to serve and get some points at the end,” Bloom said after hitting four aces to give the top-seeded Dolphins an insurmountable 23-17 lead. Erin Hogan, Alexa’s younger sister, served match point.
The Dolphins’ most recent title was a long time coming (the season usually starts in September and concludes in November), but in the end it was well worth the wait—especially for middle blocker Alexa Hogan, who went to the Senior Prom the night before.
“Honestly, winning City has made my whole senior year,” she said. “It caps my career off nicely, especially how we did it. I expected four sets, maybe five like in my sophomore year when we played them, but when I looked at one of their players she didn’t even seem that interested and I was like ‘We got this!’”
Hogan, who will continue her volleyball career at UC Davis on a full scholarship in the fall, ended the first set with a kill and proved an intimidating presence at the net, forcing the Highlanders to resort to tipping.
Palisades’ only loss was outdoors at Taft in April but once the action moved indoors the Dolphins were unstoppable, sweeping 13 of their last 14 matches and dropping only one set in three playoff contests.
This page is available to subscribers. Click here to sign in or get access.