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La Habra Stumbles Out of Blocks, Then Stuffs Centennial


BAKERSFIELD — After losing the first game, La Habra made a block party out of its second-round match against Bakersfield Centennial in the state Division II girls' volleyball tournament Saturday at Centennial High.

Sophomore middle blocker Kristina Baum had 13 kills and 12 blocks to help the Highlanders upset the top-seeded Hawks, 11-15, 15-7, 15-4, 15-12.

La Habra (22-2) advanced to play Lakewood St. Joseph in the state semifinals Tuesday at La Habra.

"At the end of the first game, we started blocking a little better," La Habra Coach Troy Abbey said. "That's the strength of our team. Then in Games 2 and 3, holy smokes, we were blocking everything."

The fourth game took 40 minutes, as Centennial (20-3) tried to extend the match to a rally-scoring fifth game. But after the teams were tied at 12, a kill by La Habra senior Lauren Goins, who had 10 kills, made it 13-12, then an ace by Ranay Dato gave the Highlanders match point.

On their second match point, a block by Baum and setter Maggie Williams ended the match.

"It's difficult to have any kind of offensive thrust when they block so well," said Centennial Coach Brooke Roberts, who led the Hawks to their sixth Central Section title last weekend. "We had a lot of hitting errors. But we don't normally launch balls off the wall."

The Hawks had 16 hitting errors in the third game, which was dominated by Baum and her seven kills and four blocks.

"When she's hot like that, that's as good as she can play," Abbey said.

Said Baum: "After that first game, we just said to each other that we didn't come all this way to lose. There was no way we were going to lose."

La Habra didn't get a marquee game from its big gun, USC-bound Keao Burdine, who had 15 kills, four blocks and 19 digs.

But that suited Abbey and the Highlanders just fine.

"Other kids stepped up tonight, like Kristina, and that took the pressure off of Keao," Abbey said.

Williams finished with 38 assists and three blocks and Jenny Habben had four blocks to contribute to the defensive effort.

La Habra did a good job of containing a balanced Hawk offense. Lauren Westendorf, a 6-foot middle blocker who has signed with Oregon, finished with only 11 kills. Sophomore Lyndsay Smith had a match-high 16 kills and Jacqueline Bernardin had 13 kills for Centennial.

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