West Ranch Wildcats girls’ volleyball has had a historic season in 2023, but the fun isn’t over yet.
The Wildcats swept the hosting Arrowhead Christian Eagles on Wednesday to win the CIF Division 4 quarterfinals match, 25-19, 25-23, 25-16.
West Ranch’s program had never made it to the CIF quarterfinals, but now the team is on the cusp of reaching the championship match.
The Cats were led by senior Kennedy Osunsanmi with 20 kills, 10 digs, three aces and one block.
While Osunsanmi put up big stats for a straight-set victory, Wildcats coach Jamey Ker continues to be impressed with his setter Dani Clewis, spreading the ball around and evening out the offense.
“Dani and Grace connected better than normal,” Ker said in a phone interview. “Kennedy played one of her better matches all season long. Her stats showed that but her presence on the court was also shown and a big factor. Dani did a great job spreading the ball around. We didn’t necessarily rely on Kennedy as much as we have had to.”
Middle blocker Grace Kelley and Clewis both added six kills for West Ranch. Outside hitters Joeleen Reynolds and Jadyn Tunnell added four kills each, while Clewis tallied 28 assists for the Wildcats.
The Cats aimed to slow down Eagles freshman Jordyn Wilson and senior Taylor Wilson.
Ker saw an all-around terrific effort from his team, with solid hands on the block and consistent digs in the back row, slowing down the Wilson duo.
“No surprise, this was the best team we’ve played all playoffs,” Ker said. “It’s what you’d expect in the CIF quarterfinals. Fortunately, I think we rose to the challenge knowing we had to come out and play our best. It was the best we’ve played in the playoffs and maybe all year.”
The Wildcats struggled in serve receive during the first two sets as the Eagles kept finding open holes with tough serving.
West Ranch passed well and was led by senior Michelle Kim with 11 digs, while Osunsanmi and libero Alexandra Seres finished with 10 digs.
Ker’s team was finally able to clean up the passing woes in the third set, where West Ranch won its most comfortable game despite Arrowhead’s rattling energy in the gym.
“We were a really well-oiled machine,” Ker said. “I felt really comfortable all night, everyone was smiling, but it was intense. Arrowhead Christian brought out a big contingent of fans and had a loud gym. We fed off that energy all night long. After long rallies, it doesn’t matter who wins or loses it, everyone catches energy after rallies like that.”
West Ranch will remain on the road and head into the CIF semifinals against the El Dorado Golden Hawks. The semifinals appearance marks yet another first for the program but Ker believes his team is thriving off the new opportunities.
“It’s an exciting time. There’s definitely been a change of energy as of late,” Ker said. “There’s that feeling that we’re in uncharted territory, but it feels good. It encourages the girls to play hard and work hard.”
El Dorado takes on West Ranch for a shot at the CIF championship match on Saturday at 6 p.m.