By Ryan Menzie
There’s no sweeter feeling in sports than winning, and the Glendale girls’ volleyball team have taken winning to a whole new meaning with their 26th straight victory.
Three of those victories came in the CIF Southern Section Division VI playoffs, and all were sweeps.
The winning run and the sweep streak, along with a spot in the Division VI championship game, were at stake when the Nitros hosted the Linfield Christian Lions in the CIF Southern Section Division VI semifinal match on Oct. 28.
Glendale punctuated its fourth straight sweep and its 27th consecutive win with a 26-24, 25-23, 25-19 victory over Linfield Christian, officially becoming the winningest girls’ volleyball team in Nitros history.
Glendale, the No. 2-seeded team in Division VI, will host Moorpark in the CIF championship game on Thursday at 7 p.m.
“Because we’re in such a tough league that people count us out frequently, just to see our girls fight through everything, they prove that the kids here in Glendale can play with anybody,” said Nitros coach Marji Keyfauver. “They’re just so tenacious, they love each other and it really shows on the court. I know they didn’t want their season to end tonight and I’m just really proud of them.”
While the Nitros (34-6, 11-3) handled business, the Lions (21-9, 4-4) didn’t back down easily.
The Nitros found themselves down 24-23 in the first set but battled their way back to secure the 26-24 first-set victory over the No. 3-seed Lions.
The Nitros faced challenges throughout their successful postseason run. Nitros starting setter Emerson Whiting was struggling with a wrist injury, which kept her out after the first round of the CIF playoffs.
However, Whiting and her team remained resilient, changed formations, and still managed to pull through with another victory in a set that found the Nitros down 23-21. Whiting’s effort that didn’t go unnoticed as the star setter ended her night with a team-best 28 assists.
“It was a great effort by all my hitters,” said Whiting. “This win means so much for Glendale since we’ve come so far. We’re on a really long winning streak and I hope it stays that way.”
Despite the Lions’ best efforts, the Nitros kept their roars at bay and handily won the third and final set, a frame where the Nitros took a 13-6 lead early.
It was an all-around performance led by middle hitter Mika Valiente’s five kills and Eileen Herrera’s five kills and two aces. However, the standout performance of Aleina Manaois set the tone for the entire match and drove the Nitros into the finals.
“Aleina is a beautiful hitter,” said Whiting. “I love playing with her and she makes me so proud.”
Manaois ended her night with a team-best 21 kills, five assists, and one ace. The stats speak for themselves, but Manaois and her team are focused on winning.
“It was a great win for us,” said Manaois. “Our job was to focus on our side more than their side, remain emotionally consistent, and don’t let anything overtake us.”
Manaois’s message to her team was simple. “Go win it.”
Of course, it’s not without the appreciation reciprocated by her setter.
“I wouldn’t have great hits if it weren’t for my great setter,” said Manaois.