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CHS girls volleyball storm back for incredible win

The Claremont High School girls varsity volleyball team is having a late season rally, beginning with a stunning 3-2 come-from-behind upset victory over first place Glendora on Thursday at CHS.

The undefeated Tartans looked like they were headed to another easy victory after winning the first two sets, 25-21 and 25-20. Claremont performed well enough to stay within striking distance, but Glendora played with an air of inevitability, keeping their opponent just a step behind.

It’s hard to say for sure why these things happen, maybe Glendora just lost focus or thought the match was already in the books, but as the third set opened, something switched and a tenacious Claremont Wolfpack came fighting back.

Claremont scored first and built a comfortable lead, now it was the Tartans who had to play catch up. They made a valiant effort but this time the momentum was with the Pack and the girls got the 25-23 win.

The Pack came out strong again in the fourth set, forcing the Tartans once again to play catch up. Claremont got within two points of victory at 23-19, only to lose the next two points. Glendora lost the next point on a penalty, bringing up set point which Kayla Mahfoud put away with a decisive kill for the 25-21 win. The match was now tied at two sets each and the crowd went wild.

In the tiebreaker Glendora got an early three-point lead, but Claremont stayed in the running, trailing by one or two points. That changed when the Pack went on a four-point rally and got a three-point lead at 13-10. Claremont was one point from the win, but the ball got tangled up in the roof resulting in a 14-14 tie. Glendora’s Luce Francesca served the ball out of bounds, followed by a fantastic block from Claremont’s Analise Kusleika for the 16-14 win.

“The girls came together and they won,” Coach Daniel Reighter said after the Glendora match. It’s a strong team and it’s a young team, but its one of the strongest teams I have seen since 2016.”

It’s little wonder Glendora came into the game with a certain amount of confidence. Last time the two met back on September 25, the Tartans won 3-1, by an average of seven points each set.

Unfortunately for the Tartans, the downfall continued on Tuesday when they lost, 3-2, this time to Alta Loma. The game played out much the same as the Claremont match with Glendora winning the first two sets but losing the next three. The dust finally settled on the regular season Wednesday night when Glendora topped Colony 3-0, Alta Loma beat Ayala, and Claremont beat Bonita, 3-1.

For the final match against Bonita, Claremont lost the first set, 24-26, but came back to win the next two 25-15 and 25-16. In the fourth and final set Claremont was down 11 points, but senior setter Brittani Bentley served for 15 straight points, only losing the serve on game point, but then the Bearcats serve went out for the 25-22 win.

As a result, Alta Loma now claim the 2019 Palomares League title with a 9-1 record, while the Tartans slip to second at 8-2, and the Pack, 6-4, snatches third place from the Bulldogs.

“They are a talented team it’s just a question of them having the mentality, the will to go out there and play their game,” Coach Reighter said.

With the last-minute shuffling of the standings, Claremont will qualify for a berth into the CIF tournament which begins next Thursday. They will likely travel for the first round against a top 15 placed team in division three.

—Steven Felschundneff

steven@claremont-courier.com