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Aliso Niguel girls volleyball defeats Long Beach Poly and standout Adonia Faumuina in first round of playoffs


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ALISO VIEJO >> The Aliso Niguel girls volleyball team overcame a slow start to beat Long Beach Poly in four sets Thursday in the first round of the CIF-Southern Section Division 2 playoffs at Aliso Niguel High.

The top-seeded Wolverines beat the Jackrabbits 21-25, 25-11, 25-14, 25-20.

Aliso Niguel (22-4) tied San Clemente for first place in the South Coast League during the regular season. They both had 7-1 league records and beat each other once, but San Clemente won a coin flip to break the tie and wound up being selected to the Division 1 playoffs.

Long Beach Poly (8-17) finished in third place in the Moore League behind Lakewood, one of the top seeds in Division 1, and Wilson.

Poly came out with a lot of energy and began the match on an 8-3 run, and that prompted Aliso to take a timeout. Adonia Faumuina, who has committed to USC, had three aces in the first set and the set-clinching kill to give Poly the first set.

Aliso Niguel took over the match from there and dominated the next two sets. The Wolverines led by as many as 15 points in the second set and they were finding holes in the middle of Poly’s defense.

“We had to match their energy. They (Long Beach Poly) came in fearless and aggressive and we had to change how we responded to it,” Aliso Niguel coach Richie Whiting said. “Once we start playing our volleyball, we are really hard to beat.”

The third set was more of the same with Aliso exploiting weaknesses in Poly’s defense. Junior outside hitter Eva Travis, who leads the team with 103 kills and 15 aces on the season, had an ace in the set and the last point.

Poly fought hard in the last set and was within three points for most of it. Josephine Fuamato hit the ball well in the set and had a crucial dig.

Faumuina was all over the court and often had a kill to end an Aliso rally.

“You just look where she is and try to keep the ball away from there,” Whiting said of Faumuina. “She can play setter, hitter, defender, she is unreal. She’s a very impressive player.”

Aliso Niguel’s hitters and blockers were on top of their game the whole match. Kendra Duffey was effective at the net and the blocking unit of Travis and Brooke Pattschull made it difficult for Poly to score in the middle sets.

After a Poly timeout in the fourth game, the Jackrabbits had a net violation and faced match point at 24-20. Wolverines opposite hitter Madyson Smith made the match-winning kill to send Aliso to the second round.

Whiting believes that ending the regular season with a loss to San Clemente might have helped the team refocus and prepare for competitive matches.

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