Category Archives: high school volleyball

Unhappy feet

They are happy girls. But they needed happy feet.

Frida Macias is emblematic. She likes art and architecture. At least once a day, she laughs until she cries. She’s happy-go-lucky.

But Frida and her teammates, facing the toughest team in the league, didn’t have happy feet. On Thursday in Camarillo, Beacon Hill Academy delivered hits that feel like lightning bolts from Zeus, and a lot of their serves landed like attacks.

Lighthouse Christian Academy, if it was going to put a fight, had to move quickly on the court.

They didn’t. LCA lost in three straight sets: 10-25, 14-25, 11-25.

“We shouldn’t let so many balls drop,” Coach Jessica Young said. “When they decide to work hard and sacrifice their bodies, then we’ll be better.”

So happy feet that move fast.

“I feel like I could have done better by moving my feet,” Frida said. “But overall I think I did really good for this good team. At sometimes I was a little frustrated with myself because I wasn’t really moving my feet.”

LCA also needed to dive to return lightning bolts.

With an 8-2 season, the Saints will likely get into playoffs. Read the rest: Unhappy feet in volleyball

Wacky Wednesday, Whacky Tuesday

For WACKY Wednesday, Clara Czer wore impossible hair to school. For WHACKING Tuesday, the sophomore was whacking balls down upon her adversaries.

Lighthouse Christian Academy made full use of her hits (13) and kills (5) to beat San Fernando Valley Academy 3 sets to 1 in an intense girls volleyball competition Tuesday in Northridge.

“Clara was pretty consistent the whole game. She was almost flawless,” Coach Jessica Young said. “She has come a long way from junior high. She is able to control her emotions. She’s probably our best hitter right now. She has pushed herself harder and harder, and she can spike it almost straight down.”

In the last, hard-fought set that drew out to 30-28, Coach Jessica instructed the team to “play smart” in the last back-and-forth trading “just one point to win” moments. Just get the ball over and don’t try to be too aggressive.

Clara still did — successfully — back row spikes.

“I thought inside, ‘Oh she didn’t listen to me,” Coach said. “For her ‘playing smart’ is that aggressive. But she got it in.”

Nobody complains if you don’t mess up.

Lighthouse is now 8-1 and almost virtually guaranteed a playoff spot. Its last season game is Thursday against league-leaders Beacon Hill Classical.

“We had a lot of great team energy. I’m just really proud of us,” Clara said. “I think all of us are really improving. I’m so proud.”

Lighthouse struggled in the first set to adapt. SFVA hosted the game in its Northridge gym, a court covered with carpet. This took LCA off guard because the Saints usually dive for balls.

“At least two of our girls have rug burns,” Coach Jessica said. “They’re bleeding.”

The SFVA gym also had an unusually low roof, and the Saints lost more than one volley just because they hit with their accustomed strength. When the ball hits the roof or a fixture before going over, it’s the other team’s point. They lost the first set 20-25.

By set 2, LCA had recalibrated and won 25-23. “We came back really well,” Clara said. Read the rest: Wacky Wednesday at Santa Monica private school

Gunslingers at volleyball in Santa Monica

Katherine (left) and Allie

Suddenly, the volleyball court disappeared and the scene of a hot and dusty Wild West town emerged.

As a tumbleweed rolled lazily along in the scorching breeze and innocent bystanders scampered for cover, Allie Scribner, hands readied for her quickest draw, squinted sternly at her rival, Westmark’s Katherine Abraham.

When the ref blew the whistle, the gunslinger Allie fired, a blistering serve… straight at the person best able to return it, Katherine.

“I wanted to ace their best player,” Allie explained afterward. “I wanted to make them feel pain.”

It might seem that to liquidate the game efficiently, it was in Lighthouse Christian Academy’s interest to target easy victims with the deadly gunfire.

But when the spirit of posse justice possesses her, Allie turns into a merciless marksman.

“Number 1 had really good serves and overall played really well with the girls,” admitted Katherine, who herself was a powerful player and struck fear into the Santa Monica private school’s heart. Read the rest: Christian private school near Venice, CA – volleyball

Reform school volleyball in Los Angeles

Two years ago, Heidy Hutchinson misbehaved in school and, looking for a fresh start, transferred to Lighthouse Christian Academy in Santa Monica.

On Wednesday, Heidy led the 2nd-string team to a 1st-rate victory against beginner’s team Summit View School to notch-up LCA’s record to 6-1.

“Me and my brother went to public school, we got in trouble, we had to come here,” Heidy says. “We kind of became better people and grew in school. I learned more about God. I got closer to God, and that’s it.”

The sidelines erupted in wild cheers for Heidy as serve after serve — underhanded serves — went over the net and — excuse the pun — netted points for LCA.

They weren’t cheering for Lighthouse, which was unyieldingly driving Summit into the depths. They were cheering strictly for Heidy. She’s come a long way. (Link to an article on Heidy from 2019.)

“I’m not really a sports person. I’m not very athletic,” Heidy says. “I didn’t really want to play volleyball, but Sarah (Montez) and Lakin (Wilson) pushed me to play. They begged me to. I’m really thankful they did because I wouldn’t be playing if they didn’t.”

Lighthouse is NOT a reform school. But they say God can re-form anyone who has taken missteps down the wrong path.

When Heidy scored the last point, players on the bench mobbed her, high-fiving and hugging.

“She got the last winning serve!” Sarah said. “She’s the team captain.”

Heidy is not team captain, but… Read the rest: Christian School Los Angeles sports program

Homage to the Queen

Every ball she hit was for her mother.

Her mother passed away just months ago.

“My hardest hardship was my grieving. My loss,” Dahlia Gonzalez says. “It makes me want to play better… for my mom.”

Mom inspired Dahlia, and the whole Lighthouse Christian Academy team, to victory Tuesday in three sets against Ojai Valley School.

“Dahlia did pretty well this game. She did have an injured finger, but it didn’t seem to hold her back this game,” says Coach Jessica Young. “They were all good. She’s a natural athlete. Some of her passes looked like collegiate level to me. They were beautiful like in a magazine. She made some last-minute saves on the sideline. She can hit ambidextrously.”

Ray Dalio may be the master of the market, but la reina Dahlia is the queen of the court.

She has overcome a lot. The loss of her mother was on top of all the difficulties of Covid and not being around friends and not practicing sports (her preferred is softball).

The Saints dispensed the Spuds (Yes, they call themselves the Spuds. No, potatoes are not a big crop from Ojai) empty-handed.

Playing on grass in the private school’s bucolic Ojai property, LCA team members had to adjust. Hits were affected by breezes. Jumps were harder without the hardwood base. Diving would not displace the fall with a slide of smooth wood surface. Read the rest: Santa Monica Christian school sports volleyball

Houston, we have a problem

After Gorman Learning Center punked Lighthouse girls volleyball 12-25, maybe thought they had the match in the bag. After all, the scored showed a solid domination in Valencia Thursday.

But Allie Scribner got mad.

And game 2 was a role reversal. The freshman got mad and served a string of unreturnable serves. She smashed 11 blistering bowling balls down the alley (get it? For Allie). After rotating through, another six aces and near-aces to rack up points for Lighthouse Christian Academy.

How did Lighthouse answer GLC’s lopsided 12-25, a message of mercilessness and intention to humiliate?

Lighthouse responded by winning the second set 25-11.

They one-upped them by one point.

Houston, we have a problem.

Where did the dramatic turnaround come from?

There are two answers. The Saints complained the pacing of Game 1 was slow. They made sloppy mistakes and looked lethargic. They came alive in Game 2.

The second answer was the sweet-faced freshman-turned-furious-face Allie Scribner.

“I knew that we were playing slow. To get my team moving, I had to move and be excited and firey and wanting it,” she says. “You have to get mad to win.” Read the rest: Lighthouse Christian Academy in Santa Monica overturns volleyball match

Duty? Who believes in duty any more?

Lighthouse Christian Academy unrelentingly buried volleyball rivals Hillcrest, which fought fiercely for life in the third and final set, battling each rally up to a minute. The final 30-28 meant Hillcrest returned home without consolation.

With solid hits, serves and life-saving digs, Sarah Montez led the mostly freshman team in the 3-set sweep.

But there’s something funny about her leadership. The 5’3″ senior only took to volleyball only out of a sense of obligation.

“I have to make it my duty to serve my school and team because they are my family at the end of day,” Sarah says.

DUTY?

After modernism, postmodernism and existentialism staged a coup on our intellectual framework, the antiquated concept of duty has fallen into almost complete disuse. Ridiculed and deconstructed by philosophers, literary titans and intelligentsia, the concept of duty is a quaint castoff gone the way of knights and lances from the times of chivalry.

Duty.

Sarah committed to volleyball out of duty to her school. She practiced assiduously, joined a summer beach volleyball program and hit the gym.

All that commitment paid off Wednesday. She whacked the ball, rallied her players, guided the team to a hard-scrabble superiority.

Secret recipe Pho

The secret is the in the Pho.

Namely, Roxy Photenhauer — or simply “Pho” — who smacked the volleyball with vengeance to inspire her team, the Lighthouse Christian Academy, to fight until death in their attempt to repeat their season opening win.

In a thrilling 5-game match that saw Lighthouse teeter on the brink of losing in three close sets, LCA lost to always-tough rivals Newbury Park Adventist Academy in varsity volleyball Thursday. Two days earlier, Lighthouse handily defeated Pilgrim School of Burbank.

In set 3, the Newbury Park crowd erupted in cheers as one of their champion hitters thundered a ball down upon their rivals, only to be silenced by an impossible dig that fired it sneakily over the net unanswered.

The astonishing response came from sophomore Roxy Photenhauer, the last-born in a chain of same-named athletes and artists who have graced LCA’s hallowed halls.

“Roxy dug a ball pretty much as good as an Olympian could do it,” remarked Coach Jessica Young. “The other team was cheering for her.”

Roxy’s digging and serving — along with some mental toughness from her fellow Saints — sparked a comeback drive.

After losing the first two sets 21-25 and 24-26, the Lighthouse Saints rallied to squeak through with a 27-25 win in Game 3. Read the rest: Lighthouse Christian Academy Santa Monica

Administration 101: A+ Volleybal: meh

Lighthouse Christian Academy Santa Monica volleyball team 2019For administration class, A+. Actual volleyball, a C, at best.

Lighthouse Christian Academy of Santa Monica won four out of nine games this season in varsity volleyball. Girls from all different levels banded together and put forth their best effort. On Wednesday, the Saints limped out of its season against Westmark School of Encino.

“We all got in our heads,” says Sarah Montez, sophomore. Our emotions got to us. When somebody wouldn’t do good, we would think, Oh, well, she’s not going to get anymore. We got frustrated with each other. That was our worst game we’ve ever done.”

But while LCA’s volleyball has fallen off from the years when the slashed their way into playoffs, other skills associated with participating on team soared.

Namely, Sarah Montez became an entrepreneur.

When she found out that LCA wasn’t going to even have a team due to lack of interest among the girls, she spearheaded a move to assemble a team.

“Sarah and her parents were a major driving force in wanting to make sure there was a team this year,” says LCA Principal Josh Young.

Sarah, with the help of her parents and her close friend Laken Wilson, communicated with all the school’s girls and encouraged, cajoled, persuaded, spammed by text until enough players relented from the low self confidence and agreed to integrate on the squad.

Then, having mastered the business strategies of forming “a staff” and motivating them to their optimal performance, Sarah forayed into a search for a CEO. (There was no coach, which is a volunteer position.)

She held brainstorming session with interested parties. She formed a search committee to identify and recruit a ideal candidate. (She got her parents involved.)

They used software to scoure LinkedIn. Just kidding. They thought of who might pitch in from the Lighthouse Church, LCA’s oversight organization.

They zeroed in on Felipe Rodriguez for all his merits: He had time. He liked working with the youth. He was an expert at sports and teams.

There was only one drawback: Felipe didn’t know a thing about volleyball.

But options were few, and Felipe had the will to serve — even if he didn’t know how to serve (a volleyball).

Felipe contacted his good friend and fellow youth worker, Xiovana Moraida, who assists her husband, Lucas Moraida, as youth leaders in the Lighthouse Church of Santa Monica.

X — as she prefers to be called — agreed immediately to be head coach while Felipe was assistant. X had played volleyball in high school and played soccer in college, so she knew about competition and team dynamics. Read the rest: Learning business schools at a small school in Santa Monica.

Growing confidence leads to win at Santa Monica Christian school in volleyball

santa monica private school girls volleyballOverconfidence preceded lack of confidence.

We would start most games cocky. Then when we started to make mistakes or face tougher-than-expected competition, the false confidence gave way to self-defeatism.

We would jinx ourselves.

But on Tuesday, Lighthouse Christian Academy decided to start the game different: with humility and determination.

As is the case with most sports, the psychological game wins the game.

We won against Hillcrest Christian School of Thousand Oaks in three sets, confirming dominance started in a pre-season face-off.

In the first game, a big hit against our confidence was a ref’s call. We saw the ball as clearly landing in, but the line ref said it was out. Even an opponent volunteered to the ref that the call was wrong, that it was in.

But the head ref ruled it out.

It blasted our momentum. Read the rest of Psychological game wins the game – Santa Monica Christian school.

Not succumbing is overcoming

Lighthouse Christian Academy Santa Monica volleyballHeidi Hutchinson wasn’t too upset by Lighthouse’s loss Wednesday.

That’s because she’s winning, though losing.

Heidi comes from a rough background. So now, not only does she attend a school she says loves her, she’s part of a team actually playing league sport.

“I’m learning about being on a team instead of just working by myself,” says Heidi. “They never gave up on me when I couldn’t hit the ball straight. When I first started, I didn’t know how to do anything, but now we’re playing actual games. I have some real friends.”

Lighthouse Christian Academy lost in three sets to Delphi Academy of Santa Monica 21-25, 14-25 and 17-25. LCA’s record is 3-4.

But Heidi knows that winning has many measures. If you’re a school that regularly churns out batches of Ivy League-bound college kids and draws from club team sports, then congratulations, you’re a winner.

But for others in life who don’t get the supportive, nurturing start of a dual parent home with no financial lack, just making the decision to not succumb is to overcome.

Eventually, Child Protective Services intervened for Heidi and her twin brother David. After years of neglect and abuse, they are now adopted by their grandparents, who enrolled them at LCA.

The last time Heidi saw her mom was 2017. And her dad? When she was 4.

This is not a sob story. This is a story of how people can be winners. All of society is a winner for every kid who chooses to rise above hardship, process and hopefully heal from the trauma and not spiral out of control with some pernicious coping mechanism.

“It wasn’t until the middle of 9th grade when I came to the Lighthouse, and me and my brother finally felt cared about by teachers and friends,” Heidi says.

Good things happened because Sarah Montez and I wanted to play volleyball badly.Read the rest: Not succumbing is overcoming – Lighthouse Christian Academy in Santa Monica.

The X-Factor in Santa Monica Saints volleyball

X Factor on LCA volleyball teamXiovana Moraida doesn’t even want to call herself a volleyball coach. Her sport was soccer, and she was really good at that. She was team captain of Santa Monica College’s women’s soccer team in 2014. But she was pressed into it.

“I knew that if I didn’t step up and coach that there wouldn’t be a girl’s volleyball team,” says Xiovana, who goes by the easier-to-pronounce “X.”

Nevertheless, Xiovana has become the X factor behind Lighthouse Christian Academy’s resurgence into varsity volleyball after the sport was dropped out of the Saints’ offerings a few years ago.

On Monday, the Santa Monica Saints beat San Fernando Valley Academy from Northridge in five sets 25-19, 13-25, 25-23, 24-26, 15-13. LCA now has two wins and three losses.

Xiovana was born in Lodi but was raised in Lockeford, California.

santa monica volleyball christian high schoolStarting at the ripe old age of 5 years old, she played and loved soccer.

In 2013, Xiovana came to live in Santa Monica to live with her aunt for soccer while attending SMC. She was the captain of the SMC soccer team in her sophomore year (as well as being the captain of her high school soccer team). 

As Xiovana stayed in LA after college, she met her now husband Lucas Moraida. Lucas was from Arizona and was attending the Lighthouse Church. As her and Lucas began to talk more, X became a Christian and got more involved in the church. Read the rest of X-Factor in Santa Monica volleyball.