It was senior day, and the birthday of coach Kyle Ross, so it was clearly a special day for all of San Pedro High girls volleyball as they entered their Marine League season finale against King-Drew Medical Magnet of Los Angeles will every right to make it their day.
Thanks to a spirited comeback in the second set, the host Pirates were able to win 25-19, 25-23, 18-25, 25-17 to clinch third place in league, virtually guaranteeing a spot in the CIF-Los Angeles City Section Division I playoffs.
Strong serving from senior setter Vanessa Ruiz, where she ended up with 10 aces, was the catalyst for a strong showing by San Pedro (8-6 overall, 7-5 league), who avenged an earlier three-game sweep defeat at the hands of the Golden Eagles (8-11, 5-7), which only occurred because the Pirates were without junior outside hitter Paige Peterson, senior outside hitters Amber Ruiz and Katie Sullivan... not to mention senior middle blocker Mila Maricic, who's out for the season with a back injury.
With Peterson, Ruiz and Sullivan all back in the lineup, it was a much different Pirate team.
San Pedro and King-Drew were toe-to-toe for the majority of the first set, before the Pirates pulled away. Amber Ruiz's emphatic kill closed out the set. The Golden Eagles stormed to an early advantage in the second set, and took a 23-18 lead poised to even the match up. Yet, the Pirates still had magic left from their miracle comeback victory over Banning of Wilmington on October 17, and made a rally that seemed all too familiar to win the set.
In fact, it was Vanessa Ruiz's three consecutive aces that finished off that set.
King-Drew would win the third set with little problem, as they jumped to an early 11-3 lead, and San Pedro's valiant effort for another comeback fell short.
San Pedro turned the tables in the fourth set by going up 13-5, and held off the Golden Eagles at the pass as junior setter Jazmin Tela's booming ace closed the match out in style. Once the post-game handshake between the schools was over, the Pirates serenaded their coach in singing "Happy Birthday" to Ross.
Amber Ruiz (no relation to Vanessa) finished with 12 kills, two blocks and four digs for San Pedro, while junior outside hitter Kirsten Bauman chipped in with seven kills and 15 digs. Sullivan had five kills and an ace, Tela served in four aces, Peterson had three kills and 9 digs, while junior libero Reanna Pele contributed with 10 digs and two aces.
San Pedro now awaits their playoff fate as they closed the season out victorious.