Santa Clarita Christian middle blocker Cora Machado did her best to rally her teammates when the Cardinals found themselves down 24-20 against Glendale Adventist of Glendale during the CIF-Southern Section Division 9 championship on Saturday at Cerritos College in Norwalk.
Down 2-1 in the match, the Cardinals sophomore clapped her hands and spoke words of encouragement to the girls on the court with her.
SCCS caught a break the next play with a Cougar error to score another point. But fate was not on SCCS’ side at Cerritos College in Norwalk. The Cardinals (19-7 overall) eventually fell to Glendale Adventist, 3-1, with games of 13-25, 26-24, 18-25, 21-25.
The win sealed Glendale Adventist’s first CIF-SS crown.
“I thought, for the most part, we were pretty consistent in our play,” said SCCS coach Darcy Brown. “We came out attacking but we could have come out harder.”
In contrast, Glendale Adventist (22-5 overall) was very effective in attacking the SCCS defense when the team needed it most.
The Cardinals came out strong in Game 4 to take a 2-0 lead after SCCS’ outside hitter Aaronya Crosswhite’s kill.
But the Cards had a tough time containing Glendale Adventist’s outside hitter Elyse Knipschild, who kept confusing the Cardinals defense with her style of hitting.
“She roll shot a lot of her hits,” Machado said. “It made it hard to tell if she was going to hit at an angle or not.”
SCCS pulled within 18-16 on a kill from outside hitter Kalona Marr, but the Cougars jumped to a commanding lead to seal the match point.
“They had some solid hitters who were able to hit the ball where we had no one there,” Brown said. They did a great job there.”
The Cardinals etched out a victory in Game 2 behind their hard hitters and strong defensive play. SCCS went up early 3-1 in the game, after Machado registered a score.
“I think that we played a great game,” Machado said. “We definitely pushed them.”
Machado ended the match with 13 kills and four digs.
The Cougars clawed their way back, however, to tie the game 9-9 before taking their first lead. From there, the Cardinals had to fight all the way to the end but were able to seal the 26-24 win after a perfect ace from SCCS’ Vanessa Garcia.
In Game 3, SCCS managed to take a 12-10 lead despite some early mistakes, after Crosswhite scored on a kill. But the Cougars went on a 6-0 streak that helped secured Game 3.
Crosswhite had 16 kills to lead her team. She also registered 12 digs and a service ace.
Cougars’ Knipschild finished with a match-high 24 kills and tallied 14 digs. Cougars’ Paige Singleton added 18 kills and 19 digs.
SCCS’ focus now shifts to state playoffs, which start on Wednesday. The Cardinals’ opponent will be announced Sunday afternoon.
Brown said despite the outcome, she was proud of how her team has played all season.
“You know, we’re a young team,” she said. “We’ve had injuries and line-up changes all season. For them to overcome them and get this far shows the resilience they have to work harder.”