One year ago, San Pedro High girls volleyball reached their seventh CIF-Los Angeles City Section championship match appearance, only to get their dreams of a fifth title swept away in the Division 1 final by Sylmar.
Most of the team took that defeat hard and vowed to make it back to a championship match with another opportunity to make it count. A determined team with 13 seniors on an experienced 19-player roster did precisely that, from the opening serve of the 2022 season to returning to the CIF-LACS Division 1 title tilt. This time, they finished in an impressive way on Friday, November 4.
Taking on top-seeded Birmingham of Lake Balboa, who were the Division 1 champions in 2020, San Pedro shook off a tough first-set loss before delivering the reserve sweep for an 18-25, 25-16, 25-17, 25-19 victory to win the CIF-LACS Division 1 championship at Cal State Northridge, avenging their bitter runner-up finish of 2021.
It started out with good intentions early for San Pedro (26-9 overall) with a match-opening kill from senior outside hitter Elaine Turituri coupled with a service ace from senior outside hitter Samantha Brown for an early 4-1 lead in the opening set, but the Patriots (18-14) went on a tear from there, going on a 23-14 surge to eventually win the set, grabbing the early 1-0 advantage.
With San Pedro trailing 8-6 in the second set, a timely block by senior middle blocker Laila Jackson started a surge that turned the match around for the Pirates, and it was Turituri who was the catalyst.
A pair of aces sandwiched in between a roll shot kill, and San Pedro took a 10-8 lead, which continued to increase shortly after via a stuff block by junior setter Kalia Teofilo, a third ace from Turituri, and a viciously tooled kill off a block by senior outside hitter Jamie Roth, forcing a Birmingham timeout.
Teofilo’s perfectly timed jump-dump down for another kill made it 14-8 before San Pedro’s momentum quelled, but it wasn’t stopped.
Two more kills and an ace from Roth, two kills from Turituri, a kill from senior opposite hitter Kaitlyn Duron, and another block from Jackson got San Pedro into their first set point opportunity, which they cashed in on with Jackson’s overpass kill to even the match at one victory apiece.
San Pedro bolted to an early 6-2 lead in the third set before Birmingham stormed back to briefly lead 7-6. A service error tied the score at 7, and the Pirates returned to work with another furious scoring rally.
Turituri again mounted an all-out assault with another pair of kills coupled with a second successful jumping dump down from Teofilo and yet another Jackson rejection for an 11-7 lead to force a Patriot timeout. Then San Pedro just kept on coming, piling up a 21-12 advantage before Jackson’s incredible fifth block of the match on set point provided the Pirates the all-important 2-1 edge.
Roth’s thunderous kill to open off the fourth set got the Pirates off to a rousing start with the championship within reach, but they again had to hold off the determined Patriots down the stretch. Trailing 5-2 early, the serving of Brown coupled with two kills and a block from junior middle blocker Sofie Valle willed San Pedro into a 13-7 lead.
From then on, the Pirates never trailed again as the combined efforts of Roth, Turituri, and Duron propelled the team to the proverbial finish line. On match point, Birmingham’s last attack to try to keep the match going just sailed out at center court, and San Pedro began celebrating their hard-earned championship win with unbridled joy in their hearts.
Turituri ended the night with 12 kills, 6 digs, and 5 aces, while Roth was spectacular with 11 kills, 3 digs, and 2 blocks. Jackson had a pair of kills and 5 blocks. Teofilo had 3 kills, 2 blocks, 19 assists, and an ace, while senior libero Kennedy Kordic added an ace, 23 digs, and 12 serve receptions. Duron had 4 kills and 7 digs, while Brown and senior setter Alyssa Estrada’s serving was pivotal in San Pedro’s run to the Division 1 championship.
It was a victory that was a microcosm of San Pedro putting forth their own expectations and exceeding them all. Winning a third straight Marine League championship was one of those goals. San Pedro defeated an unprecedented four defending CIF-LACS champions from the 2021 season (Sylmar – Division 1, Eagle Rock – Division 2, North Hollywood – Division 3, GALA – Division 4) to strengthen their resume.
In postseason play, the third-seeded Pirates eliminated Garfield of Los Angeles, league rival Carson, and second-seeded Marshall of Los Angeles before overcoming the top-seeded Patriots in the title tilt.
Head coach Sean Zuvich, a San Pedro alumnus, won his 99th career match in five coaching seasons, with the first two coaching at nearby Mary Star of the Sea High School. spt