South Torrance High's 19-6 football upset over Torrance wasn't the only reason for celebration at the school last week.
The girls' volleyball team captured South's first-ever championship in the sport by clinching the Pioneer League title. It brought an end to a frustrating streak for the Spartans, who had finished second to powerful Mira Costa in the Ocean League for three consecutive seasons.
"It was horrible," South Coach Moira Fagan said. "We'd get psyched to play Mira Costa. Then you walked into their gym, and they have this incredible tradition. It was worth five points every match."
League realignment moved South to the Pioneer League this year, and the Spartans took advantage of the situation. They completed the regular season Thursday against North, bringing an 11-4 overall record and 7-0 league mark into the match, and will open the Southern Section 3-A Division playoffs at home Thursday night.
South has not been ranked in the 3-A coaches' poll this season, but Fagan believes her team is being overlooked.
"We've never been ranked, so people don't know about us," she said.
The Spartans, who have only one senior, are led by setter-outside hitter Jennifer Hughes and middle blocker Stephanie Pfau. Hughes, a 5-foot-9 junior, averages 15 kills a match and contributes in all areas. Pfau, a 5-11 freshman, is considered one of the most talented ninth graders in the South Bay. She averages 10 blocks a match.
"She's definitely college-bound," Fagan said of Pfau. She said Hughes is already being recruited by Arizona State and Loyola Marymount.
Fagan, a former player at the University of Montana, is looking forward to the future with her young team, and even thinks the Spartans can compete with Mira Costa in a year or two. They lost two nonleague matches to the Mustangs this season.
"Now that most of our girls play club (ball), we know we can match up with some of (Mira Costa's) players," she said. "We're getting that footing."
Winning a league title was a good place to start.