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California state volleyball championships: Valley Christian, Crystal Springs Uplands win CIF State titles

Two Central Coast Section squads open first day with highly competitive wins over Palos Verdes and Oceanside, respectively
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ORANGE, CALIFORNIA — The Central Coast Section from the North won both CIF State crowns on the opening night of the six-division, two-day competition Friday at Santiago Canyon College. 

Valley Christian-San Jose won the nightcap over Palos Verdes-Palos Verdes Estates 25-20, 23-25, 25-22, 25-23 for the Division I title.

The Warriors (26-10), winning the school’s third championship in five appearances, were paced by Charley Staats with 26 kills, Addison Carbonara with 21 kills and right side Whitney Fleming with 12 kills. Setter Hailey Newell had 51 assists.

Palos Verdes, after a competitive run in the Southern Section’s eight-team Open Division and a SoCal Division I title, made its second straight appearance in a CIF final, the only two in school history. The Sea Kings (25-12) were led by Cal Poly-commit Kendall Beshear with 30 kills and a .311 attack percentage. Middle Daniela Rusich bashed 14 kills. Setter Mallory LaBreche, a UCLA beach commit, had 46 assists.

“All the girls embraced our philosophy,” Valley Christian coach Ron Whitmill said. “We are undersized and we don’t have a choice. We have to serve, pass and move the ball fast.”

Valley Christian came through in the key closing stretches of the third and fourth sets to capture the victory. The third was tied at 19-19, with Carbonara ripping two kills and Staats three kills to win. The fourth was tied at 23-23, with Staats delivering the final two points home with kills.

“They did a good job moving through our block, swinging and working at the hands,” Sea Kings coach Lacey Minzlaff said. “And they have two really good servers and we got stuck in those two rotations.”

Division 5

In a topsy-turvy afternoon opener, Crystal Springs Uplands-Hillsborough edged Oceanside 17-25, 25-23, 25-13, 16-25, 15-11. Both schools were making their first appearance in a state final.

Gabby Tomatis paced the Gryphons (27-4) with 16 kills, Ellie Lee added 10 kills and Elle Beebe had nine kills and six blocks. Oceanside (24-12) was led by Faye Naotala with 24 kills.

Crystal came out cold and then caught fire in sets two and three. The Pirates rebounded in the fourth to even the contest at two sets apiece. In the decisive fifth set, Crystal libero Bianca Sladewski served nine straight points to produce an 11-2 lead and the Gryphons held on for the win. For the contest, Sladewski served 10 aces, tied for second most in a match in CIF State history.