For Hart’s Jennifer Russell and Stefani Woll, chemistry was never an issue.
The duo clicked from the onset of the season and carried that camaraderie throughout the year, complimenting each others games to near-perfection.
Russell was the more cautious of the pair, often playing the back and serving as the second line of defense, while Woll was more of an attacker, charging the net and firing shots before the ball even bounced.
“I’m back all the time and she’s at the net. So I play more safe and she’s more aggressive which helps,” Russell said after a match against Golden Valley earlier this year. “We both play other sports and play very intensely with other people, so doubles hypes us both up.”
The No. 2 doubles team for Hart was a force throughout league play and was one of the main reasons the Indians reached the quarterfinals in the CIF-Southern Section team playoffs.
At one point during the season, Russell and Woll didn’t lose a set in three consecutive league matches.
“I’m very proud of them. It started around the end of the preseason, we played some good teams and that propelled them into season,” Hart head coach Allan Hardbarger said about his doubles team. “They know how to win and keep their cool when times are tough.”
Russell and Woll lost to West Ranch’s Angelina Cuiffo and Brooke Johnson in the first round of the prelims in a super tiebreaker, but were still one of the most dominant doubles teams in the Foothill League and in the team playoffs.
In Hart’s opening playoff Wildcard match against Windward, Russell and Woll dropped only one game in three sets, a match the Indians won by a single game.
Against Louisville in Hart’s second playoff match, Russell and Woll once again won all three of their sets, sweeping the last two.
“It really helps when you have a partner who is super reliable, so that came in really handy for me,” Woll said after Hart’s win over Louisville. “Jen is super consistent in the back and she sets me up really well at the net and so it helps us to split the players and get some of the easier points.”
In the round of 16, the duo won two of three sets against Cerritos and also won two of three sets in the quarterfinals against Polytechnic of Pasadena.
“Doubles is about communication and knowing your opponent and managing emotions through a match and throughout a season,” Hardbarger said. “These girls have really bonded this year. It really shows throughout the season when you have two girls that know each other and can push each other to be greater than the sum of their parts.”
Audrey Kim and Emily Andrews, West Ranch
The senior combo of Kim and Andrews was practically unbeatable all season, helping lead West Ranch to its third consecutive Foothill League title. The No. 1 doubles team for the Wildcats also won the annual Fall Brawl Tournament, sweeping Russell and Woll in the process. The pair lost in the semifinals of the prelims to eventual runners-up Taylor Cohen and Ashley Villarta of Valencia.
Taylor Cohen and Sydney Tamondong, Valencia
Cohen and Tamondong were partners for most of the year, serving as Valencia’s No. 1 doubles team. They switched things up in the prelims as Tamondong played in the singles bracket and Cohen teamed up with Ashley Villarta. Cohen and Villarta reached the prelim finals, losing to teammates Amanda Tabanera and Brenna Whelan, but still qualified for the CIF-SS playoffs.
Angelina Cuiffo and Brooke Johnston, West Ranch
Johnston and Cuiffo served as West Ranch’s No. 2 doubles team for most of the season, though they switched it up throughout the year. They reached the second round of the prelims, losing to Cohen and Villarta in a super tiebreaker.
Shannon Sindle and Emily Thompson, Hart
Hart’s No. 1 doubles team was crucial to the Indians’ success this season. Against Windward in the first playoff match, Sindle and Thompson won all of their sets. Against Louisville in the second round the won two of three sets. They won all three of their sets against Cerritos in the round of 16.
Alyssa Alvidrez and Kenna Henderson, Saugus
Kayla Halberstrom and Nina Contin, West Ranch
Kirsten Kieu and Ashley Villarta, Valencia
Kennedi Williams and Evelyn Kong, Golden Valley