Clark, Warren hold onto 28-6A lead, But O’Connor within striking distance

By Pat Turner

Clark and Warren remained at the top of District 28-6A volleyball standings, but O’Connor is staying close to the co-leaders.

While the Cougars (30-3, 5-0) and Warriors (15-15, 5-0) swept both opponents, the Panthers (26-8, 4-1) zipped by Taft in three and then rallied to a 3-2 win over Brandeis (20-9, 3-2) to remain a game of the co-leaders.

The comeback for the Panthers, whose lone district loss came against Warren, was a huge accomplishment.

After all, Brandeis appeared to be in control after the net play of Maya Smalls and Chidera Ugwokaegbe, along with the passing of Chase Kluna paced the Broncos to 25-23, 28-26 wins.

Although the Broncos, who began their week with a 3-0 win over Brennan, kept bringing the heat, the Panthers calmly worked out of trouble by staying in their zone.

The Panthers began getting into a smoother offensive flow with Terez Chavez (30) and Marissa De La Rosa’s assists (24). That opened the door for hitting opportunities for Bryshanna Brown, Gabby De Los Santos and Kali Nelson. O’Connor also tightened up its defense with Brown and Jordan Schenkel (27 digs) coming up with key stops.

That combination enabled O’Connor to force a game five with 26-24, 25-18 victories, before taking the match, 15-10.

Clark, which has not lost any sets in district play, pounded its way past Marshall and Stevens with a number of players contributing.

Depth has been a plus for Clark all season and it helped this past week. The duo of Kara and Elise McGhee continued to produce. Strong support was also present from Kendall Harrington, Micayla Reiland and Taylor McDonough. Ashley Hu and Irie Mendez’s passing was a plus. Mendez also did her part on defense with Madison Cuellar and Shadee Briggs.

Warren was in top form as well in its 3-0 wins over Stevens and Jay.

However, the Warriors had to sweat game three of it match with the Falcons.

After soaring to 25-18, 25-10 wins, the Warriors were in a 23-20 hole in the third set as Gabby Rodriguez and Micaela DeAndre helped the Falcons move in front.

Just when it appeared the match was headed to a fourth game, the Warriors found a way to finish with hits from Loimata Tufuno, Camryn Anderson and Lexy Thomas, along with the passing of Brianna Rodriguez and diving saves by Aliah Giroux.

“We got our energy back,” Tufuno said. “We didn’t want to go four (sets). We started playing better. Our energy has helped us all year. There’s always someone stepping up.”

Brennan recovered from its loss to Brandeis with a 3-0 over Marshall. Ahzalon Coleman, Lexie Williams and Kayla Lofland ignited the Bears’ turnaround.

Taft (2-3, 17-11) snapped a three-match losing streak with a 3-0 win over Holmes behind the Donetta Cage and Jamiryana Hall combination that was complemented with the setting of Mia Moreno.

In District 28-5A, first-year varsity participant Harlan (17-11, 3-0) held the top spot with a 3-0 win over Uvalde and a 3-1 victory over Medina Valley.

The Medina Valley match gave the Hawks a chance to show how their can handle pressure.

The Panthers vaulted to a 25-16 win in the opening set, but Harlan bounced back to tie the match with a 25-16 victory, before wrapping up the match, 25-20, 25-12.

Ayanna Jackson’s 17 kills led the comeback, while steady play also came from Julie Arguijo, Kiana Fallaha, Jevani Hanspard and Alexa Gomez.

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