SCCS moves past Lone Pine in first round of CIF state tournament

Kalona Marr (00) goes for a kill during a home game as Jessianne Joiner (21) and Mariah Button (23) try to block the ball during round 1 of the Division 5 CIF State Tournament on Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2017. Nikolas Samuels/The Signal
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A sluggish, error-ridden Game 1 from Santa Clarita Christian School on Wednesday opened the door for optimism from Lone Pine.

Despite the Cardinals winning the game, 25-23, there were five lead changes and four timeouts combined between the schools.

Aaronya Crosswhite (1) of Santa Clarita Christian School goes for a kill as Lone Pine’s Mariah Button (23) tries to block the ball during Round 1 of the Division 5 CIF State Tournament on Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2017. Nikolas Samuels/The Signal

SCCS trailed only once more, though, in its first-round match in the girls volleyball CIF Division 5 state tournament, sweeping Lone Pine (25-23, 25-10, 25-15) at SCCS. The Cardinals will play Carnegie Schools-Riverside or Sierra Pacific on Saturday in the second round

“There were far too many errors in that first game,” said Cardinals coach Darcy Brown. “We needed to be the ones dictating the pace, not letting the game come to us.”

Megan Dombrowski helped set the pace with four aces as part of a 10-0 run to open Game 2. Aaronya Crosswhite, who matched a season high with 18 kills, added two in the run.

The Cardinals were a game away from playing in the state finals two years ago. But with a team that doesn’t include a senior this season, a majority of the team was experiencing the state tournament for the first time.

“I think we had to shake some nerves in that first game,” Crosswhite said. “We were playing as six individuals, not a team.”

SCCS led 15-10 in Game 1 but three consecutive attack errors allowed a Lone Pine run to tie things up at 17-17. Crosswhite and Cora Machado watched a return drop in between them, giving Lone Pine a 22-21 lead, before the Cardinals finished the game on a 4-1 run.

“We got our energy back and we didn’t let it fall for the rest of the match,” Crosswhite said.

Crosswhite also led the team with five aces while Dombrowski recorded a team-high 24 assists and 14 digs.

Kalona Marr notched one of her 13 kills on the night to give the Cardinals a 25-10 victory in Game 2.

Lone Pine flashed its promise from Game 1 in Game 3, working to a 13-11 lead. SCCS followed with a 7-0 run, though, punctuated by a kill from Machado, who ended with seven. The Golden Eagles mustered just two more points as the Cardinals sealed the match with a 25-15 win.

“That’s a big deal when you’re able to clean up errors like they did on the fly,” Brown said. “They just needed to settle themselves after the first game.”

Lone Pine made it to the Final Four in the CIF-Southern Section Division 10 tournament while the Cardinals were the runner-ups in Division 9.

Brown said the Cardinals would likely host Saturday’s match if Sierra Pacific advanced to the second round but they’d likely hit the road if Carnegie Schools were to advance.

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