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The Accolade

The Student News Site of Sunny Hills High School

The Accolade

The Student News Site of Sunny Hills High School

The Accolade

Girls volleyball advances to CIF-SS quarterfinals after sweeping The Archer School for Girls

Chloe Kang
Setter senior Stacy Kim jumps up to block the oncoming ball during the second set of the CIF-SS playoffs against The Archer School for Girls on Oct. 22. The Lady Lancers won the match 3-0, which qualifies them for the quarterfinal round on Wednesday, Oct. 26.

Winning in straight sets at home against The Archer School for Girls Panthers on Saturday, Oct. 22, the girls volleyball team heads to its first CIF-SS quarterfinals match since 2016.

“It’s phenomenal, and I think winning tonight really opened their eyes up even more to the goal that we can go all the way up to state,” Lady Lancers head coach Amanda Donaldson said. “They’re not slowing down for any reason; if anything, we’re stepping on the gas harder.”

In contrast with their first CIF playoffs round against Canyon High School that concluded with a 3-2 victory, the Lady Lancers (18-11) had no scouting report on the Panthers (21-10).

They also didn’t have any common opponents this season. 

“There was a lot of uncertainty about the other team,” Donaldson said. “We were able to step [it] up, and we made the other team play catch-up, which was absolutely important,” Donaldson said. 

After middle blocker senior Olivia Haptonstall scored the first point of the opening set with a kill from the middle, co-captain libero senior Grace Min followed with two successive service aces. 

From there, the Lady Lancers quickly gained momentum with middle blocker junior Noor Francisco, who clinched the upper hand with three consecutive kills, establishing a six-point lead at 8-2 until the Panthers called their first timeout.

“I think we mainly like focusing on what we can control and what was on our side, like our serve receive passing, and of course, our serving,” Noor said. “Our coach always reminds us that serving [and] passing is what’s going to win us games.”

For this match, the coach called for a lineup change — one that shifted freshman Kayla Thienprasiddhi from her usual right-side position to outside hitter. 

“I mean she does [play outside hitter] practice very regularly, but it was a big pressure situation for her to step up,” the head coach said. “She came in and did a phenomenal job.”

With four kills from Thienprasiddhi and six from co-captain outside hitter junior Kayla Taylor, the Lady Lancers won the first set, 25-20. 

“I just tried to let loose and go for it,” Thienprasiddhi said. “[This win] shows that we proved ourselves, and we’re ready for our next game.”

At the start of the second set, setter senior Stacy Kim scored six assists and two service aces within the first 10 points. 

“I felt super excited serving the first seven points of the game and also relieved because some of my serves were lucky and barely made it over the net,” Kim said. 

Two serve misses and six attack errors from the Panthers gave the Lady Lancers a significant edge. And with four slide kills from Haptonstall, the team maintained no less than a 10-point lead throughout the entirety of the set, which ended at 25-11. 

By the start of the final set, Sunny Hills once again commanded the first eight points. But with seven missed serves from the Lady Lancers and several blocks from the opposing team, the Panthers inched their way toward securing the third set. 

At 23-23, Donaldson said she felt an urgent need to address her team’s game plan and called a timeout.

“If we made even half of those [missed serves], we probably would have won much, much easier, but I’m proud of them for being put in that pressure situation,” she said.

Establishing a strategy that would cover some defensive shortcomings made earlier in the set, Donaldson and the captains reiterated the importance of consistent serve receives and directed the team’s attention toward the Panthers’ outside hitter, junior Isabella Jeffery.

“We addressed our defense and our blocking, especially committing to their outside instead of their other hitters,” Taylor said. 

With persistent scramble plays during the second half of the set, and Taylor’s final serve ace, the Lady Lancers prevailed with a 25-23 win, qualifying them for the quarterfinal round of the CIF playoffs. 

The Lady Lancers look forward to reaffirming their victory with a home game this Wednesday, Oct. 26, against Kennedy High School — a team that beat the Lady Lancers in straight sets during the preseason on Sept. 7.

“[Our team is one] that’s hungry, and they put in the effort all year long,” Donaldson said. “They hold each other accountable every second, and they earned it; you know they earned it.”

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Irene Sheen, Managing Editor
After spending her junior year on staff as the special sections editor, senior Irene Sheen is excited to contribute to The Accolade as the next managing editor. During her final year of high school, she strives to strengthen her writing expertise, and most importantly, enhance the publication’s print products. With a profound passion for political reform and civic engagement, the journalist also intends to use this platform to facilitate conversations on social and cultural issues. Outside of Room 138, Sheen takes pleasure in binging movies, baking bread, exploring cafes and experimenting with her nails.
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    KellyNov 14, 2022 at 1:42 pm

    Great inspiring article! This article was very informative and interesting. I am so glad I came across this article and I am inspired to play volleyball. Great writing!