Three times the Palisades High girls volleyball team was one point from defeat in the second set of last Thursday’s City Section Open Division quarterfinal match against San Pedro. All three times the Dolphins survived, thanks to clutch kills by Alex Laita and a timely ace by Angelina Burton that fueled a 25-18, 28-26, 25-16 sweep that was much tougher than the box score indicated.
“You can’t expect things to be easy because you’re the No. 1 seed,” Pali High Coach Carlos Gray said. “Every team in the playoffs is good.”
Trailing 24-22 in the pivotal second set, Palisades pulled even on a Laita kill and Burton’s ace. Laita’s crosscourt strike tied it 25-25 and another kill gave the Dolphins a 27-26 lead. Then, a hitting error by the eighth-seeded Pirates gave Palisades a two-sets-to-none advantage.
“We didn’t know much about San Pedro but when you’re playing a new team you try to focus on playing your game,” Burton said. “We fed off the energy of our fans to get us through that second set.”
On Tuesday, Palisades hosted Northern League champion Eagle Rock with the winner advancing to the inaugural Open Division championship match Saturday at 6 p.m. Roybal Learning Center.
“We didn’t have a great week of practice before [San Pedro],” middle blocker Abbey Kearney said. “We were a little overconfident, but we learned that we can’t just coast. This will push us to be better.”