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Girls' volleyball continues CIF playoff run with win over Mira Costa

Orange Lutheran travels to Marymount High School for a CIF-SS quarterfinal match-up.

OLu celebrates at Mira Costa’s expense again

Chris Tobolski, November 9, 2012, www.volleyballnow.net
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It felt frighteningly familiar, for it was, Orange Lutheran and Mira Costa staging a sequel Thursday night surpassing last year’s playoff encounter, which also went to the max.

Again it was the home crowd engulfing its players in a frenzied mob after Orange Lutheran captured a nail-biter over Mira Costa in five games, 25-20, 18-25, 19-25, 25-21, 20-18, in the second round of the CIF-SS Division 1-AA playoffs.

Orange Lutheran, which advances to play No. 2 Marymount in Saturday’s quarterfinals, clipped Mira Costa in five, 25-21, 26-28, 25-17, 23-25, 16-14, in the same round of the postseason 12 months ago.

Once more Orange Lutheran staved off a match point, this time two of them, and fought back for the overtime victory. It was set up by a kill off the block from Taylor Wheatley (19 kills) to bring up match point before it ended on a double contact violation on the next play.

“We’re tired and energized at the same time,” Orange Lutheran coach Andrew Mabry said. “This is why we do this on both sides. We were fortunate to come out with the win. I thought both sides competed so hard. The match was a little sloppy at times, but in the fifth set both sides cleaned it up and it was really good volleyball. “Playing at home was a big factor. Our crowd was huge, they really supported us. That gives you that extra energy. It was big to have that on our side.”

Last November, Orange Lutheran held a 13-12 advantage in the final game and that was the case Thursday night after Wheatley sent one off the block.

However, just like last fall, Mira Costa scored the next two to gain the first match point at 14-13. It happened when Grayce Campbell (24 kills) connected off the block followed by a net violation on Orange Lutheran.

Wheatley’s kill tied it at 14, but Campbell answered right back to make it 15-14. With Wheatley now in the back row, OLu turned to Kaitlyn Gibbons (16 kills). She saved the second match point then finished off one of the longest rallies of the match with another shot off the block and OLu had its first look at the match at 16-15.

Lexi Millington (11 kills) came up with a winner to tie it at 16. Gibbons and Adrian Anderson traded kills and it was 17 all. Mira Costa missed its serve followed by a net violation on OLu and it was 18 up before Wheatley moved to the front row again and delivered a kill to make it 19-18.

Back-to-back blocks from Emily Aranda (9 kills) and Wheatley pushed OLu ahead 11-7 earlier in Game 5. But Mira Costa stormed back on a 5-0 run and went up 12-11. It included a pair of blocks from Corie Bain and Gabi Rosenfeld and a kill by Campbell.

Orange Lutheran’s Game 4 lead was trimmed to 19-18 after Kelsey McIntire’s slide winner. The Lancers came back with a 4-2 spurt, capped by Reegan Dennis’ slide kill, to make it 23-20, eventually closing it out on Gibbons’ kill.

Orange Lutheran raced out to a 9-2 margin in the opening set before Mira Costa steadied out and clawed back. The Mustangs pulled to as close as 20-19, but OLu finished on a 5-1 run, finished off by a quick tip from Dennis.

Mira Costa responded in Games 2 and 3, with OLu holding only one lead in each set.

Emily Blair recorded 48 assists and Hollie Bowers had 13 digs for Orange Lutheran. Bain ended with 42 assists and 10 digs for Mira Costa, which fell in the second round for the third straight season.

“It’s a tough place to come in and play,” Mira Costa coach Lisa Zimmerman said. “We didn’t ride the momentum of the third game into the fourth. I thought we fought hard, it’s just disappointing.”

Orange Lutheran lists eight underclassmen on its roster, including juniors Wheatley, Gibbons, Blair and Aranda.

Without the benefit that comes with carrying a bunch of seniors, Thursday’s performance could bode well for OLu in the future, especially after the team managed to keep it together after giving up the big lead in the decisive set.

“I thought (Mira Costa) earned those five points. They weren’t on our mistakes,” Mabry said about Costa’s late rally in Game 5. “Still, I can’t say enough about how much we responded from there. That was huge for us.”
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Founded in 1973, Orange Lutheran High School is a comprehensive private Christian co-educational college preparatory high school, grades 9-12, that exists to help students internalize the gospel message of salvation in Christ Jesus. The culture and climate of Orange Lutheran are based on caring relationships that strengthen our community as a Lancer Family. High standards of excellence coupled with a warm, energetic atmosphere create a safe, nurturing environment where students can thrive, as they discover and develop their unique gifts, talents, and passions.