Learning Curve

Senior libero Annie Eckert was named to the All-Tournament team.

Pali High Volleyball Makes Gold Division at Chatsworth Invite

By STEVE GALLUZZO | Sports Editor

Just like the points themselves, there were lots of ups and downs for Palisades High’s girls volleyball team at last weekend’s eighth annual Chatsworth Invitational. When all was said and done, the Dolphins finished 5-2 and senior libero Annie Eckert made All-Tournament, though coaches Carlos Gray and Dustyn Woropay both felt their team could’ve done better.

Palisades’ Alexa Hogan (right) and Caroline Kedeshian jump high for a block at the net in Friday’s pool play match against Royal. The Dolphins prevailed, 25-14, 17-25, 15-10.
Photos by Steve Galluzzo

“Coming into this season we have a lot of new faces and we don’t have an Alex Laita (now a freshman at the Universty of Oregon) to rely on, so it has to be more of a collective effort,” said senior opposite hitter Caroline Kedeshian, who made first team All-City team last fall.   “I have to be more effective on defense and take more balls in the back row. We’re everyone’s Super Bowl—all of the teams want to beat us because we’re the champs.”   

Palisades outlasted Royal, 25-14, 17-25, 15-10, to complete pool play unbeaten Friday and opened the next round of pool play Saturday morning by sweeping Narbonne. The Dolphins stumbled against Eagle Rock but rebounded to sweep Chatsworth to advance to the Gold Division, where they fell in the quarterfinals to eventual-chamnpion Palo Verde of Las Vegas, 25-17, 25-13. 

Sophomore Kaia Kanan began the season with huge shoes to fill—those of setter and captain Keely McMahon, who was presented the Post Cup Award as Pali High’s oustanding senior athlete in June. Kanan has  embraced the role so far and got the season off to a rousing start by serving 17 points in a row to open Friday afternoon’s first pool play match against Van Nuys.

Freshman Maddie Nielsen (facing) hits through a block against Palo Verde.

“The first serve is always nerve-racking, but I felt very confident that game and once I got the first few in I wanted to see how far I could go,” said Kanan, trying to equal the 24 straight points Marcus Partain reeled off for the boys versus Hamilton in the spring. “I didn’t quite make it all the way but Ally [Bierschenk] came in and did the rest.”    

Kanan played on Pali High’s beach team in the spring and went to several camps to sharpen her setting, knowing the starting job was up for grabs.

“I wanted it to be me,” Kanan added. “Keely really knew how to run a team. I learned from her.”