The Etiwanda girls volleyball team has picked up right where it left off.
Last season, the Eagles pieced together the best postseason performance in program history by advancing to the semifinals of the CIF Southern Section Division 3 and CIF State Division III regional playoffs.
And that confidence and momentum has carried over to the new season.
Etiwanda opened the campaign by sweeping all five of its matches at the Mountain West Invitational, which was hosted by Norco High School this past weekend. The Eagles defeated Redlands, Norco, Western Christian, Diamond Ranch and La Sierra and finished as the lone uneaten team in the round-robin event.
The Eagles opened with a hard-fought 28-26, 25-23 win over Redlands, which claimed the varsity division title at the prestigious Queens of the Court preseason tournament in Orange County earlier this month.
“I was really impressed with how we came out strong right from the start,” Eagles coach Savannah Flores said about her team’s effort. “It was reassuring to see such strength and unity from that very first match.”
Etiwanda was led by the four returning starters from last year’s squad: sophomore setter Brooke Hansen, senior outside hitter Emma Tippeconic, senior opposite Camryn Alo and senior middle blocker Zacqueline Coaston. Another standout during the tournament, Flores said, was senior outside hitter Macie Powell.
“I really believe that we are stronger and more dynamic on the offensive end this season,” Flores said.
Etiwanda’s gym currently is under construction, so the Eagles have been practicing at local middle schools. The gym is scheduled to be ready for competition when the Eagles open Baseline League play next month.
“They have adapted well to the situation, and it has brought them even closer as a team,” Flores said.
Norco finished the event with a 4-1 record, with its only setback coming to Etiwanda (25-15, 28-26). Redlands closed things out with a 3-2 record, with the losses to Etiwanda and Norco (25-16 and 25-23).
TIGERS RALLY, DEFEND TITLE
San Jacinto successfully defended its championship in the West Valley Tournament, but the Tigers had to overcome an early roadblock before hoisting the championship trophy once again.
San Jacinto was swept by the tournament host during pool play, causing the Tigers to drop to the No. 4 seed for bracket play. San Jacinto knocked off Lakeside and top-seeded Arlington to advance to the championship match, and then the Tigers avenged that previous setback to West Valley by pulling out a 25-21 victory.
Senior outside hitter Saniya McWright was chosen the Most Valuable Player of the tournament. The other San Jacinto players chosen to the all-tournament team were senior opposite Jackie Lizarde, senior outside hitter Lorna Lopez and senior libero Litzy Morales.
West Valley was led by senior Haily Goldbach, who averaged 4.1 kills in the tournament.
GREAT OAK PREVAILS IN REDLANDS
Great Oak opened the season by capturing the title at the Blackhawk Classic hosted by Citrus Valley.
With first-year coach Hannah Schaffer guiding the program, the Wolfpack posted pool-play victories over Bonita, Arrowhead Christian and the tournament host. Great Oak took care of Hemet in the semifinals and knocked off Bonita once again to claim the championship.
Senior setter Michaela Augustine was chosen MVP of the tournament, and junior outside hitter Ava Smith was chosen to the all-tournament team.
MUSTANGS CLAIM TITLE IN FONTANA
Roosevelt had a strong showing during the opening weekend of the season, as the Mustangs won the championship in the Steeltown Classic hosted by Fontana.
Roosevelt swept all six of its matches, including a 25-13, 25-14 victory over Beaumont in the championship match.
Senior outside hitter Terra Whitaker was chosen MVP of the tournament.