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Comeback Gives La Habra Plenty of Reasons to Celebrate


Thanks to an impressive rally, La Habra was in a position to joke about blowing a nine-point lead in one game and a 10-point lead in another.

In front of an overflow crowd of 1,600 Saturday at Cypress College, the top-seeded Highlanders were put in such a fortunate position after a 13-15, 14-16, 15-10, 15-11, 15-5 victory over second-seeded Lakewood St. Joseph in the Southern Section Division II-A girls' volleyball final.

"It was a little nerve-racking but I think we wanted it more," said La Habra senior middle blocker Suzanne Andrade.

Andrade and her teammates found it hard to adjust to St. Joseph's block in the early going so the Highlanders worked more in the final three games on tapping the ball over the block instead of trying to power through it.

"They were on me like a hound dog," said Andrade, "so I had to change from hitting to tipping."

La Habra (20-1) dominated the final game after falling behind, 3-1. The key run came with Rachelle Suesoff serving and the score tied, 5-5.

The Highlanders rolled off seven consecutive points featuring two blocks for points by senior setter Amanda Siler and two sharp kills from sophomore outside hitter Ruth Keao Burdine.

"I was a little worried after the first game," Siler said. "We were up, 10-0, and they won."

Burdine had a team-high 17 kills and added eight blocks. Siler had 12 kills, seven blocks and 24 assists. Andrade added 10 kills and 11 blocks and junior middle blocker Sara Ramm got 11 blocks.

La Habra was down, 10-4, in the second game and rallied to tie it, 14-14, on a kill by Andrade. After a sideout, St. Joseph's Melissa Courtney got a kill for one point and teammate Melissa Villaromen ended the game with a soft tap over the La Habra block.

With the situation dire, La Habra Coach Troy Abbey made three changes in his rotation pattern starting in the third game.

"That was the subtle turning point," he said. "We showed them a different look and it took [St. Joseph] a while to catch up."

La Habra jumped to a 10-0 lead in the third game but threw it all away as St. Joseph (15-9) scored 10 consecutive points.

The run stopped on a service error into the net. La Habra went up, 11-10, on a hitting error and Siler and Andrade combined on a block for a 12-10 lead. Two hitting errors by St. Joseph made it 14-11, and Siler ended the game with a block.

Courtney had a match-high 23 kills for St. Joseph.

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