Behind the play of Kate Lane, the Palos Verdes girls volleyball team posted its first Division 2 Gold Bracket Championship at the annual Dave Mohs Tournament Sept. 7 at Fountain Valley High.
Lane earned tournament MVP honors, while Finley Shannon and Jessica Majka were all-tournament selections.
"You couldn't really say any one girl stepped up, but (Lane) picked up her defense," coach Patrick Lynch said. "She was one of the factors that really helped catapult us into the semifinals and finals."
Lynch saw a distinct difference between PV's play in the Ann Kang Invitational in August in Hawaii and the Mohs tournament.
"In Hawaii, we didn't really have a lot of practice together. We were still learning how to play with each other, and our timing didn't really come until the last day," Lynch said. "We saw our potential and started playing more toward our potential, but it took us a few games in order for us to get our teamwork and chemistry going."
PV swept its way to the finals, knocking off St. Joseph's (25-19, 25-14) in the first round before disposing of Upland (25-22, 25-20) in the quarterfinals. In the semis, the Sea Kings defeated Long Beach Wilson (25-21, 25-19) before beating St. Margaret's (25-22, 25-23) in the finals.
"We were much more aggressive with our hitting in this tournament. Our outside hitters were in sync a lot with our sets, and it translated into some side-outs when we were in some tough situations," Lynch said. "The girls were siding out really well the last two games, and that was the difference as to why we could compete, and win."
Lynch noted it was the leadership of seniors Shannon, Lane and Ariel Campbell who kept the team upbeat over the weekend.
"I felt like they kept the team in a positive frame of mind throughout the whole tournament," Lynch said. "When we got into tough rotations, they maintained concentration and focus, and it helped the whole team. They were always in a positive mindset with what we were doing on the court."
The play of Majka and Shannon was something Lynch saw as an x-factor to PV's success.
"We were much more aggressive with our hitting in this tournament, and (Majka) really stepped up her play on the outside," Lynch said. "She came up with some big kills in the semifinals and finals that were at opportune times. Finley had some key moments when she got important side-outs for us."
Katelyn Chekian was another player Lynch saw push the Sea Kings toward the tournament victory.
"We moved (Chekian) from the outside to libero, and it was one of those tournaments where she picked up her game," Lynch said. "She made some digs that kept some rallies alive, and it brought us a lot of momentum. She got the team fired up with some of her defensive plays."
PV sits at 13-6 heading into its Sept. 12 match against El Segundo, and Lynch feels the tournament will give the Sea Kings a boost of confidence heading into the toughest part of its season: Bay League play.
"Winning the tournament gives us a lot of confidence going into league, but there is still a lot of work to be done for us to get to the level we want to be in order to beat some of the teams in our league," Lynch said. "We have our work cut out for us when league starts."
With the No. 2 ranked team in California, Redondo, and perennial CIF Southern Section Division 1 title contender Mira Costa on its league slate, Lynch knows PV will have to be at its best in order to push both Redondo and Mira Costa.
"When you know you're playing teams like Mira Costa and Redondo, you have to play at your best to beat them," Lynch said. "You have to play to the best of your capabilities to give yourself a chance to beat a team like Redondo."
In the CIF-SS Division 1 & 2 poll released Monday, Sept. 9, Redondo was ranked No. 1 and Mira Costa No. 5. PV was unranked. As of Tuesday, Redondo was 15-0 and ranked No. 2 by MaxPreps.