A championship season ended unceremoniously for the Palisades High girls volleyball team Tuesday night in the South Bay as the Dolphins were swept by Redondo Union, 25-11, 25-22, 25-13, in the opening round of the CIF state Division I playoffs.
After dropping only one set in four City playoff matches Palisades found it difficult to stop the Sea Hawks’ multi-faceted attack, led by four players headed to Division I colleges: setter Norene Iosia (Hawaii), outside hitters Yaasmeen Bedart-Ghani (Texas), Megan Rice (UC Santa Barbara) and outside hitter/middle blocker Abril Bustamante (USC).
Rice led top-seeded Redondo with 13 kills and Bustamante, who will play sand volleyball for the Women of Troy, added nine kills and three aces. Isabel Kelly and Domineque Jeffords each had five kills for Palisades, seeded eighth out of eight teams in the Southern California Regional.
“What you do against this type of team is try to make them earn everything, make them volume swingers — and for a while we did that,” Pali High Coach Carlos Gray said. “They have a lot of options on offense and they used all of them.”
Palisades (27-11) defeated Granada Hills in four sets to win the City Section title Saturday at Roybal Learning Center while Redondo (36-2) beat Mater Dei in four sets to win the Southern Section Division 1AA title at Cerritos College.
The Dolphins trailed 23-17 in the second set but reeled off five straight points to pull within a point and force Redondo Coach Tommy Chaffins to call timeout. The Sea Hawks regrouped to close out the set on Bustamante’s hit off the block and opened a 7-1 lead in the third set.
“The first round is a difficult match for both sides because you’re coming off the emotional high of winning your section and you have one day to practice,” Chaffins said. “I didn’t know much about Pali specifically, except that they played in our tournament this year, they’re well coached and they’ve always been a strong program.”
Fresh off her first season at Amherst College, former Pali High player Jennifer Krems was there to cheer the Dolphins on. She was Western League Co-Player of the Year and made first team All-City as the Dolphins’ kill leader last fall.
Gray rotated all of his players in and the bench erupted when senior opposite hitter Taylor Pecsok got Palisades’ last kill.
“We knew it was going to be a very tough fight,” Pali High setter Delaney Arth said. “Against Granada [Hills] we knew where certain players were going to hit it, but this team we didn’t know as much about. The key was getting touches and staying loose. The way we approached it was nothing’s out — go for everything. That’s the best team we’ve played.”
Redondo advances to Saturday’s Southern California Regional semifinals where it will host fifth-seeded Clovis (32-6), the Central Section champion.
— Steve Galluzzo
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