By Robert Lewis, CCCWVCA SID, firstname.lastname@example.org
Coming off a state runner-up finish and a top rating in Southern California last year, Grossmont College has its sights set on a return to the CCCAA State Championship Tournament. The undefeated Griffins went 3-0 to capture the 29th San Diego Mesa Invitational A title.
The tourney format was changed this year to have an A and B grouping to separate the 16 teams. It also shortened the tourney to allow teams only to play three matches instead of four in previous seasons.
The Griffins opened with a sweep over Moorpark, a match in which they put down an amazing 23 block kills and served 11 aces. MH Jasmine Rivera made five solo blocks, MH Gillian Newman four (and two assisted) plus three aces while OH Lexi Reddick scored nine kills. All three are sophomores.
In the semifinals, Grossmont again used its blocking to befuddle Glendale-Arizona in four sets, 25-20, 17-25, 25-15, 25-18. The Griffins knocked down 17 blocks, six by Reddick, who scored a team-high 20 kills. OH Kela Simmons scored a double-double with 12 kills and 15 digs while RS Alyssa Cortez contributed 13 kills and four blocks.
"We exhibited such composure and calmness during our win over Glendale-Arizona," said Grossmont head coach Jamie Ivers. "We knew that match was going to be the toughest one of the tournament, so the ladies were ready to be pushed. The players responded to adjustments flawlessly and, as a coach, it was fun to watch them on their own, adjust, talk about it, adjust again, modify, and have success."
Grossmont then finished off the Mesa title with a resounding sweep over Chaffey, 25-12, 25-15, 25-16. The Griffins attack was on fire at a .437 percentage with Reddick slamming 17 kills (.552) and Cortez 11 kills (.667). Second-year setter Brooke Wheeler passed out 38 assists and served three aces.
"We have tremendous depth and everyone is excited about their role and wants to contribute," Ivers said. "The players know that they are part of something that is bigger than themselves. It's huge that we have a team first outlook. We are prepared for conference and beyond."
Two matches that impacted the week 3 State Top 25 Rankings were a sweep by Pierce over host San Diego Mesa and then Chaffey upending Pierce in four sets, the second time that the Panthers defeated the Brahmas.
Pierce would go on to down a talented Glendale-Arizona team in four for third place in the A group at the event.
Chaffey libero Diane Luna totaled 36 digs in the win over Pierce. Chaffey opened the tourney with a sweep over Bakersfield as OH Taylor Lewis powered 15 kills. Pierce OH Autumn Russell scored 12 kills and 12 digs in the Mesa win. Russell finished with 42 kills and 32 digs in three tourney matches.
Palomar won the B group title, sweeping Cerro Coso and Citrus before outlasting Phoenix-Arizona in five sets, 25-21, 25-23, 22-25, 18-25, 16-14. The Comets were led by MB Maci Lerno, who pounded 38 kills in three matches.
Host Mesa rebounded from its loss to Pierce with 4-set triumphs over both Bakersfield and Moorpark. Setter Lindsey Gordon added 90 assists and 35 digs in three matches.