By Phil Dailey
The La Jolla Country Day volleyball team won its first two matches of the state tournament last week and now is on the brink of a second straight state championship.
The Torreys defeated both Upland Christian and St. Margaret's in straight sets last week and with a win today (Nov. 30) against Santa Fe Christian, a team they have beaten three times this season, they are likely headed to the state finals Saturday in San Jose.
"So far, we're just better than the other teams and if we keep playing well, we should be all right," head coach Peter Ogle said after defeating St. Margaret's on Saturday night.
And if the team wasn't already good enough, Saturday's match also welcomed back the return of Lauren Birks to the starting lineup. She had been hampered with an injury for the past few months. Against St. Margaret's, a team that came into the match with a 20-5 record, Kendal Peterkin and Mollie Rogers led the Torreys; both added 10 kills in the rout.
Ogle believes this team may be more improved than the one that earned the school's first state title in volleyball a year ago.
"They are better than last year — the five seniors were five juniors last year," he said. "They are a year better so we're better."
One player who has been key to the team's success is setter Chloe Mathis; a player Ogle said has made everyone better with her impressive play. Mathis signed a letter of intent last week to play at Arizona while three of her teammates will also play at the Division I level next season in Gillian Howard (Pacific), Birks (Stanford) and Rogers (Yale).
Having four players with elite college-type of skill helps, but at the same time, it's a group that looks like they enjoy playing with each other on the court.
"It's not only the talent, but it's how our team blends well together," Rogers said. "We just have a great chemistry. That's really why we do so well and why we accomplish so many things, we all play so well together."
But no matter how much fun they are having, the team is always focused on the most important goal.
"Each point that we win gets us closer to winning state," Rogers added. "We are really trying to push through every single match that we play, this one included. Everything is for that final goal that we are trying to reach."