It’s been some kind of season for San Pedro High girls volleyball.
In the shortened 2021 spring season, the Pirates won the Marine League championship in an abbreviated schedule due to the pandemic, in which the league didn’t have all the schools competing in it for that reason alone. Then when spring gave way to the fall semester, San Pedro didn’t miss a beat.
Despite a demanding early schedule in which they tested themselves outside of league play with the Chatsworth and Pacifica (Garden Grove) Tournaments, along with nonleague encounters with the likes of Peninsula, North Torrance, and then-defending CIF-Los Angeles City Section Open Division champion Palisades Charter, the Pirates managed to come out of it relatively unscathed.
Once a full-slated Marine League schedule returned, the Pirates went back to their usual business, and that’s when coach Sean Zuvich and company were off and running.
For the first time since 2009, San Pedro went on to capture the league title, sharing it with Carson, who along with Gardena did not play girls volleyball in the spring. The whole month of October provided the Pirates plenty of hope, especially after starting off the month by sweeping the Colts at home. The Pirates also swept rival Narbonne both times for the first time since 2007, finishing league play 9-1.
Earning the fourth seed and a first-round bye of the CIF-LACS Division 1 playoffs, the Pirates came nearly close to capturing their second CIF title in four years (we featured the 2018 CIF-LACS Division 1 champions in the December 2018 issue of San Pedro Today).
In the quarterfinals, the Pirates took care of San Fernando in a straight-set sweep, then in the semifinals, the Pirates fell behind two games to one at top-seeded Verdugo Hills before storming back to force the deciding fifth set.
A back-and-forth battle ensued between the two schools, but it was the Pirates who emerged victorious 15-13 in the final set after junior outside hitter Jamie Roth delivered the final kill to oust the Dons and advance to the CIF-LACS Division 1 championship match on November 6 at Birmingham Community Charter High School against Sylmar, who ended up sweeping their way to the title.
Despite the disappointment, San Pedro still qualified for the CIF Southern California Regional Division 5 playoffs, with a chance to make even more history.
Never before in the longstanding history of San Pedro High School sports has any team ever won a CIF State Regional postseason game, and the girls volleyball team had the most chances to be the first to break that trend, losing in the 2004, 2005, 2017, and 2018 CIF Southern California Regional opening games (the 2017 team was the only one to not win a CIF title but automatically qualified because they competed in the CIF-LACS Open Division playoffs).
On Tuesday, November 9, that trait was emphatically closed.
Taking full advantage of their new lease on playoff life, San Pedro had no problems with CIF-LACS Division 3 champion North Hollywood as they won 25-16, 25-12, 25-16 in front of a heavily supportive home crowd. Talented sophomore setter Kalia Teofilo dissected the Huskies with a season-high 11 service aces, while also getting clutch outings from senior outside hitter Alyssa Ortiz and junior outside hitter Samantha Brown.
Then on November 11, San Pedro made even more history with yet another home sweep, this time against CIF-Central Section representative East of Bakersfield.
Thanks to the five All-City Division 1 selections in Roth (9 kills, 3 blocks, 7 digs), Teofilo (18 assists, 4 kills, 2 aces), junior outside hitter Elaine Turituri (11 kills, 13 digs, 1 ace), senior libero Vanessa Martinez (17 digs), and junior defensive specialist Kennedy Kordic (3 aces, 9 digs), the Pirates withstood a 10-1 second set deficit and eventually won the match, 25-22, 25-19, 25-16 to advance to the CIF Southern California Regional Division 5 semifinals.
The Pirates’ magnificent postseason push finally ended with a straight-set semifinal defeat at the hands of eventual CIF Division 5 state champion Santa Clarita Christian of Canyon Country, who finished with a perfect 37-0 record.
No shame in how the run stopped, and San Pedro, who finished with a final 18-12 overall record, can take solace in how their recent march to history came about.
A true team of character that lived up to the CIF motto of “Pursuing Victory with Honor.” spt