By Ryan Menzie
The dream season is complete.
The Glendale High girls’ volleyball team embarked on a flawless run in the CIF Southern Section Division VI playoffs on the way to host the championship match against Moorpark on Thursday.
On the line was much more than perfection — the Nitros had a chance to win their first-ever CIF title.
As it did throughout the postseason, Glendale once again excelled, sweeping Moorpark 25-13, 25-21, 25-15 to win the Division VI crown.
“I feel like the girls worked hard and prepared,” said Glendale coach Marji Keyfauver. “Their spirit the whole playoffs, no matter the score, they just keep playing point after point. Even when they went down a few points, they’d come right back up. I’m just really happy they were able to maintain that attitude in the long run. They’re just a resilient, unflappable group of girls.”
The Nitros (35-6 overall) swept all four playoff opponents and finished the season with a 28-game win streak. Moorpark (9-9) fought valiantly but fell victim to another Nitros straight-sets victory.
All nerves in question heading into the first set were quickly brushed aside as the Nitros took an early 14-4 lead, and any chance the Musketeers showed a sign of life, the hosts quickly put out their flame.
Junior outside hitter and captain Aleina Manaois recorded eight of her team-best 15 kills in the first set alone, with each kill proving to be that much more meaningful with all eyes set on the CIF championship.
It seemed the match’s script had already been written, but the Musketeers didn’t back down so easily. As the second set rolled through, the Musketeers took a quick 4-0 lead.
The Nitros, of course, kept their foot on the gas, but the Musketeers kept hanging on and trailed 22-20 near the end of the set. The Nitros hunkered down behind the efforts of their strong attack and held onto winning the second set.
“I think we all knew we needed to stay together as a team and not let that run keep going,” said Manaois. “This win means a lot for our seniors. I know they wanted this. Especially our other captain Arianna who has been here since freshman year. It’s been a big goal for her.”
Junior setter Emerson Whiting finished with a team-best 22 assists as all things were clicking with their attack. Along with the attacking prowess of Manaois, freshman outside hitter Eileen Herrera finished second on the team with five kills.
Offense wins games, but defense wins championships. Whether it was errors on the Musketeers or strong digs from senior captain Arianna Vargas, the Nitros could do no wrong.
Vargas went on to finish with a team-best 15 digs. Despite emotions beginning to roll in through the final set, Vargas and the Nitros kept their composure in another resounding third and final set.
Time and time again, Vargas has been called upon and she delivers. The trust coach Keyfauver has put into her all season long has tested her abilities, even as a setter, when her team needed her the most.
In the end, it all paid off with the first CIF championship in program history.
“I’m so happy,” Vargas said. “Words can’t describe how happy I am. This team has worked so hard for this. We worked so hard this whole season for this. Starting out as a freshman, Glendale wasn’t at its highest. Now I think it’s at its highest. I have all my respect for coach. I’m very grateful to have a coach support me the way she does.”
First published in the November 4 print issue of the Glendale News-Press.