Story and Photos
by Christian Romo
Down two sets to none, the Wildcats forced a fifth set and came within four points of the program’s biggest-ever victory. But a late surge by Westridge juniors Makana Meyer (13) and Allison Martinez (1) saved the Tigers’ championships hopes.
Advancing to the CIF semifinals for the first time since 2007, the Westridge Tigers defeated the visiting Monrovia Wildcats in five sets (25-15, 25-21, 23-25, 23-25, 15-12) Saturday night in Pasadena. Meyer fired up the home crowd with two straight aces to force match point, and a final Martinez kill let loose a Tiger pile on their side of the court.
“I just tried to stay calm and focus on the next ball,” said Meyer, who recorded seventeen kills and seven aces. Martinez stayed focused towards the end as well, recording five of her 29 overall kills in the deciding set. “Our whole team is really excited, we’ve been working for this the whole year,” she said. Not everyone could stay calm however.
“It was one of the craziest matches we’ve had,” said Tigers junior Eryn Boken (7) in a sea of exuberant green-and-white supporters. “I think we all came together, took a deep breath, and played point after point,” she added.
For the Rio Hondo league champion Wildcats, their unprecedented season almost produced a bit more magic. And though Monrovia fought for every point, Meyer and Martinez overwhelmed the Wildcat defense in the end.
“We didn’t come in expecting easy points,” said Monrovia coach Wayne Teng. The Wildcats used tremendous back-line defense from seniors Angie Castañeda (21) and Madison Mayoralgo (24) to stay in the match, but couldn’t find enough offense to overcome Westridge in the final set.
The Tigers dominated the first two sets, finishing long plays with furious attacks and powerful swings. Monrovia carved at Westridge’s two-set lead, however, overcoming a three-point deficit in the third set, a six point deficit in the fourth, and a four-point deficit in the fifth to even the final set at 11-11. But the Tigers won four of the last five points and secured a semifinal birth.
Westridge will travel to Wildomar to face the Elsinore Tigers Tuesday night at 7 p.m., hoping to play for their first CIF title in ten years. Martinez said her team would focus on fundamentals heading into the next match: “We’re going to work on serve and serve-receive…because our swings are working really well right now.”
Instead of forming a game plan, Boken emphasized the mental aspect, repeating the mantra the Tigers have been using throughout the playoffs. “Every point should be played as championship point,” she said.
Arcadia 1-3 Sierra Canyon
The visiting Sierra Canyon Trailblazers defeated the Arcadia Apaches (23-25, 25-12, 25-16, 25-22) in the CIF Division 4 quarterfinals Saturday night in Arcadia. The Apaches had not advanced this far in the playoffs since their semifinal run in 2014.