Top-seeded Elizabeth Learning Center of Cudahy was down two sets to one by a determined Polar Bears team eager to end the reign of the Bulldogs, but reality struck in the fourth set, and third-seeded POLA would fall victim to it in a 25-20, 16-25, 16-25, 15-3 loss to Elizabeth Learning Center at the Roybal Learning Center in the CIF-Los Angeles City Section Small Schools championship match.
Apparently Elizabeth was not to be denied in winning their third straight Small Schools championship, and sixth crown in seven seasons.
After dropping the first set, POLA (20-9 overall) would jump to a sizable 20-10 lead in the second set behind strong serves from senior setter Susana Sanchez, who had 25 assists in the match, and four service aces. The Polar Bears would also pull away with a 23-13 lead in the third set before taking a surprising 2-1 edge before Elizabeth Learning Center (28-3) woke up from what seemed to be an even more surprising nightmare.
Elizabeth would go up 10-6 in the fourth set, but after a kill by junior outside hitter Angela Wade cut POLA's deficit to 10-7, the Bulldogs would amazingly power their way to 30 out of the last 38 points of the match to seal the deal.
Junior middle blocker Allison Bayer, who already has two City Section titles in softball to her credit, flustered Elizabeth Learning Center throughout the match with her 5'11'' frame, coming up with seven kills and four blocks. Wade paced POLA with 12 kills on the day. Sanchez had two kills, while also getting kills were senior outside hitter Keila Yorba, and senior opposite hitter Cynthia Vargas, who served two aces.
Senior middle blocker Shyonna Jones also served an ace during the third set for POLA, who went 8-0 in the Ocean League and made the playoffs for the first time in school history. Head Coach Felicia Ivie's team would make the most of their first opportunity at a championship by defeating Animo Robinson, LACES and second-seeded Central City Value on the way to their first title match appearance before putting the favored Bulldogs on the brink and on notice.
Not many schools can say that... but the Polar Bears can.