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CHATSWORTH — Make it to the quarterfinals of one of the toughest prep volleyball tournaments in the country? Done. Beat one of the toughest Mission League teams? Check. Enter a new league and stay unbeaten? No problem.
The Sierra Canyon girls volleyball team crossed off a lofty to-do list Tuesday night, sweeping Bishop Alemany, 26-24, 25-17, 25-14, just days after competing in the Durango Fall Classic in Las Vegas. With the win, they are the lone team that’s gone unbeaten thus far in the Mission League.
“We try to stay really humble,” Ava Hewitt said. “We know that we’re new to the whole Mission League thing so we’re trying to go into it knowing that everybody’s trying to give us their best and we’re going to give it right back.”
Sierra Canyon gets the sweep and remains unbeaten in league play. SC beats Alemany 25-14 in the third and final set. pic.twitter.com/MywnpawCYm
— Haley Sawyer (@haleymsawyer) September 21, 2022
Both Alemany and Sierra Canyon wagered unbeaten league records heading into Tuesday night’s match. The match continued for over an hour and a half despite consisting of just three sets partly because of the Warriors’ tenacity.
The Trailblazers (23-3 overall, 3-0 Mission League) jumped out to a 5-1 lead in the opening set, but Alemany (14-3, 2-1)came back to tie it once with an ace from Lexie Firestone and later with a big block. Sierra Canyon’s Olivia Babcock thwarted Alemany’s set point attempt, then had back-to-back kills to get her team the win.
“I don’t like it, but we are slow starting and then next thing you know, we get on fire,” Alemany coach Morgan Wijay said. “I was just telling the girls, like, you’ve got to understand that no matter how big your role is or how small you role is, your jobs matter.”
Alemany’s London Wijay matched up with Sierra Canyon’s Olivia Babcock providing for one-on-one battles. The Trailblazers kept the ball away from Wijay, a Texas A&M commit and the Warriors’ biggest hitter, leaving Havyn Rolle to work the middle. She led her team in kills with nine and in blocks with two.
Olivia Babcock is impressive. Sierra Canyon’s top volleyball player. She’s headed to Pitt. pic.twitter.com/EdPciIXsr5
— Tarek Fattal (@Tarek_Fattal) September 21, 2022
“(We made) sure to take line and angle and just pay attention to where the hitters were swinging and then just adjusting from there,” said Hewitt, a Clemson commit. “We go over it in practice a lot, so we just really wanted to try and execute that.”
The Trailblazers switched out Zoe Mcnicoll and Jaida Sione (11 kills, two aces) at outside hitter throughout the match to add depth and versatility. The pair complemented University of Pittsburgh commit Olivia Babcock, who led the team with 20 kills, three blocks and six digs.
“We have these big hitters and being able to give them a few rotations where they can actually come out, talk to the coach, make adjustments about what they need to do in the front row and have an equally as strong player step in and fill the role while we’re making those switches, its invaluable,” Sierra Canyon coach Stefanie Wigfall said.
Alemany’s Mission League slate doesn’t get any easier, with a match against Marymount on Thursday. Meanwhile, Sierra Canyon’s unbeaten league record gives them an edge for the league title.
The Trailblazers’ ability to maintain that while coming off a difficult tournament gives Wigfall even more confidence in her team moving forward.
“It’s hard to have such an intense tournament and then come out and play,” she said. “I know that they wanted to play perfect tonight and we didn’t, but the fact that we can still work our way through it and come out with wins is good.”