HIGH SCHOOL VOLLEYBALL
Mira Costa wins fourth Ann Kang Invitational in the past 5 years
Los Alamitos (Calif.) gave Mira Costa an early wake-up call yesterday morning, but by the end of the day, the Mustangs were the ones celebrating another tournament championship.
Senior captain Alix Klineman hammered down a match-high 10 kills and Falyn Fonoimoana and Lauren Bledsoe combined to dominate at the net with four blocks each as Mira Costa captured its fourth Ann Kang Invitational in the last five years with a 25-13, 25-17 victory over Los Alamitos in last night's championship match at Iolani.
The Mustangs finished the tournament with a perfect 12-0 record, and only dropped two games in the entire tournament. One of those came to the Griffins, who beat the Mustangs 25-14 in the first game of the day yesterday morning. The loss seemed to wake up the Mustangs, who came back to defeat Los Alamitos in three games before dominating them in last night's final.
"We came out a little tight in the morning," Mustangs coach Daelea Aldrich said. "Eventually we started to get our passing game going, and when we pass as good as we did in the (championship match), nobody can beat us."
Junior Lee Carlco added seven kills for the Mustangs, who wasted no time jumping out to an early 5-0 lead in Game 1. Griffins star outside hitter Geena Urango, who committed to play for California next season, put down one of her team-high eight kills to cut the lead to 14-10 before Klineman took over. The 6-foot-4 senior put down five kills as part of a 9-1 run that broke open the first game.
"She's one of the most dominant girls I've ever coached against," Griffins coach Jimmy Munoz said. "She's so agile and well-rounded and has a great understanding of how to play the game."
Klineman, who said Hawaii is among five colleges she is considering, added three blocks and an ace to go along with her 10 kills, but more importantly, was always the sure-fire option the Mustangs were able to turn to every time Los Alamitos made a run.
"She really has stepped up as our team leader this season," Aldrich said. "She's so mature now and makes great adjustments and just does everything we could ask of her."
Los Alamitos went up 12-10 in the second game after Klineman once again came to the rescue. She put down three kills in a row and added her only ace during a 13-4 run that sealed the championship.
"This is by far our best trip of the year," Klineman said. "Mira Costa has a really good tradition of making sure you go out there and work hard and play your best and that's just what we were trying to do."
After winning the tournament three straight years, Mira Costa chose not to play in last year's tournament, which was won by Los Alamitos. The defending champions finished this year's invitational with an 11-3 record.
"This was a solid tournament across the board, and we'll go back to the drawing board to try to improve ourselves," Munoz said. "We're going to see (Mira Costa) at least four more times this year, so we'll get our chances at them again."
While it is not known whether the Mustangs will be back to defend their title next year, this will be the last tournament in Hawaii for Aldrich, who is retiring at the end of the season after 25 years as coach of the Mustangs.
"Hopefully, the girls will be back, but it'll be without me." Aldrich said. "It has been a wonderful experience, but this is it for me."
Newport Harbor took third place in the tournament. Host Iolani finished the tournament with an 8-4 record, while Punahou ended up 7-4.