Kennedy keeps La Quinta at bay

By Ted Apodaca

Kennedy High girls volleyball ended their preseason with a three-set win over La Quinta on Wednesday at Kennedy High.

The Fighting Irish took the first two games handily, each time jumping out to 10-point leads. In the third set, the fighting Irish again looked like they might run away with the set. Leading 4-3, the Fighting Irish went on a 4-0 run to take an 8-3 lead.

Kennedy took a 10-4 lead on a cross-court tap for a point by Perla Rodriguez.

After a tap shot for a point by La Quinta’s Kelly Le, the Irish added two more points, to push their lead to 12-5. But La Quinta pushed back with a 4-1 run. The run included an ace serve off the back row by Amaya Primiani.

But the Irish responded with a 4-0 run, highlighted by two ace serves from Brooke Sasaki, which game Kennedy a 17-9 lead. Kennedy would extend its lead to 19-10, but the Aztecs would push back one more time.

Katelyn Nguyen hit a tapper off a back row defender to start a 4-0 run. Jeanine Nguyen had a well place bump shot from the back line that found open space and fell in for a point. She also capped the run with a hit off a back row defender to cut the lead to 19-15.

But that would be as close as the Aztecs would get. Kennedy started a 4-0 run with a hit down the middle by Sarah Ito, followed by a block for a point by Rodriguez. After Rodriguez tapped an overpass down for another point, Dejenea Blair had a hit off a back row defender to push the lead to 23-15 as the Irish eventually closed out the match, 25-16.

Kennedy is looking to improve upon a third place finish in the Empire League from last year. Cypress won the league with a 10-0 record, while Kennedy was third at 6-4, one game behind Tustin.

Head Coach Billie Bixby said the team is young, but has been playing with a lot of energy. She also said, despite their youth, they have been able to shake off mistakes quickly and keep focused on the game. She also likes the way the team has supported each other.

“They work hard to get better, they help each other get better,” Bixby said.

La Quinta coach David Tran’s team was second in the Garden Grove League last year and were set to start league play on Thursday against Los Amigos. It was a busy week for the Aztecs who also played three matches in three days, after defeating Westminster on Tuesday.

Tran said he was not too concerned about the score as he was trying to rotate players as much as possible to get everyone extra playing time. He said the key for his team is to play aggressively. He said they did that in the third set and were able to make it a closer set. He said if the Aztecs can play more up-tempo, they can be competitive.

“We definitely have the skills … we just need to pick up our feet and get it moving and play a quicker pace game,” Tran said.

La Quinta opened league play on Thursday against Los Amigos and will play at Loara on Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. They will host Santiago on Thursday at 5:30 p.m.

Kennedy hosted La Mirada Thursday in their final pre-season match. They will play at Tustin at 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday and will host rival Cypress on Thursday at 4:30 p.m.

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Photos by Ted Apodaca
Samantha Ferguson lines up a hit against a La Quinta defender in Kennedy’s three-set win over the Aztecs last week.
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Holly Verzani goes for kill against the defense or La Quinta’s Stephanie Quigley.
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Kennedy’s Perla Rodriguez (back) battles with La Quinta’s Jillian Sumalpong loose ball at the top of the net.
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Dejenea Blair puts a hit against the defense of Dana Hong (3) and Jillian Sumalpong.
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Brooke Sasaki tries to control a ball back towards the net.
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Stephanie Quigley (18) gets a hand on this hit for a block.
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Jackie Tran gets low to control a serve.
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Stephanie Quigley puts up a defense against a Kennedy hit.
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Stephanie Quigley watches her hit go past the Kennedy defense.

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