The City Section Girls Open Division Volleyball Championship was on the line last Saturday night at Birmingham. Fourth-seeded Palisades High was playing second-seeded Eagle Rock.
The Dolphins lost the first game 21 to 25 but won the second 25-15. Then the Eagles pulled away, winning the final two games 26-24 and 26-24.
A Pali parent wrote Circling the News, “In the fourth game, [our girls] fought valiantly to overcome a 10-point deficit. You can see by the scores how close and exciting it was.”
Despite the loss, Palisades advances to the CIF State Girls Volleyball Championships, Division III, where the team is seeded sixth and will host 11th-seeded Vistamar (El Secundo) tomorrow, November 12, at 6 p.m.
The Vikings have a 19-3 record and the Dolphins are 37-9. This should be a good matchup because Vistamar is ranked 107 in California and Palisades is ranked 114. Both schools played and defeated Wildwood earlier this season. Come down and cheer the Dolphins!
PaliHi went undefeated in Western League play (12-0) and entered the City tournament ranked behind Taft, Eagle Rock and Granada Hills. At least one school official, who did not want to be named, felt that the 30-time City champions should have been seeded higher, based on their record.
On November 1, the Dolphins started their path to the championship game by beating Narbonne 25-21, 25-11 and 25-21. The original match had to be postponed two days because Pali was closed for three days because of the Getty Fire. It also meant there were no practices going into the game. “Somehow, some way,” Coach Carlos Gray tweeted afterwards, “we managed to move on.”
Pali then faced Cleveland, which had upset top-seeded Taft in four games. The Dolphins prevailed in three games, 25-18, 25-21 and 25-22, to reach the finals.
Not only will the team say goodbye this year to five seniors, Michal Weinberg, Ally Bierschenk, Annie Eckert, Caroline Kedeshian and Jalyn Johnson, but long-time Palisades volleyball head coach Gray is leaving the school.
Since coming to Pali, Gray’s girls have won seven league titles and have an 83-0 league record. Last year, his boys team was 42-3 overall, winning the City Open Division and losing to Mira Costa in the regional semifinals in the CIF Division One tournament. This spring, Gray will coach the boys team at Westlake (Thousand Oaks).