Palm Springs High School volleyball coach Gary Wilhoite was quick to point out his team’s biggest accomplishment.
“If you were to have told me that we’d be in the second round of the CIF playoffs against the No. 2 seed and go four games, I would have never believed it,” said Wilhoite, whose Indians won the first game against visiting Chadwick on Thursday night, but fell in the next three to close the season. “They did a great job in the past few weeks preparing for this and were mindful about these playoffs. They made it to the second round.”
Senior Maygan Zink agreed that the young Indians came a long way, despite falling to Chadwick 23-25, 25-19, 27-25, 25-17 in a Division II-A match.
“At the beginning of the season, we really underestimated ourselves,” said Zink, who finished with 15 digs and 10 assists for the Desert Valley League runner-up. “We gained so much trust in each other in the second half of the season and that was key to finding success.”
The success started early for the Indians in Game 1. Palm Springs (15-10) kept it close against the Dolphins (24-2) and edged ahead to take as much as a three-point lead with some strong passing from freshman Mary Lake (37 assists) and senior London Chow. Chadwick battled back to tie it at 16-all on the serve of Kristen Parks and the net play of Emily Newton, but the Indians stayed focused. Junior Olivia Mediano began her assault with some powerful swings to lead the Indians with 19 kills and Chadwick started missing returns, then spraying serves. The Indians took advantage and held on 25-23.
“We have a tendency to start slow,” said Chadwick coach Anita Drennen. “We missed some serves and had to come back from that.”
The Palos Verdes school rolled right out in Game 2, while Palm Springs never caught fire. Abbe Holtz, Jillian Parks and Sarah Lucenti pushed Chadwick ahead easily, 25-19.
Hope Stagg, Haley Young and Meagan Anderson (eight kills) kept the Indians in it in Game 3 before Chadwick surged out on the serve of Newton. Nikki Lake sparked the Indians back in it on serve and Kyndal Arkley (two blocks), Anderson and Mediano made some key plays at the net to erase a six-point deficit.
Freshman Ashtyn Lyneis went back on serve, rolled up a couple of points to tie it at 20-all, then the battle began.
Arkley added that the Indians saw a different team in the final three games.
“They definitely came back with more energy,” she said. “It was a rollercoaster. We had our highs, then we had our lows.”
And Palm Springs started having more difficulty finding the open court and was pushed to play defense, especially in Game 4 where Chadwick took a lead for good at 14-11.