Making the biggest impact of the season was no doubt the Mary Star High girls volleyball team, as they got the season started off in grand fashion by sweeping host San Pedro 25-14, 25-13, 25-13 in an intersectional crosstown showdown on August 26.
It didn't stop from there, as the Stars continued to rack up victories all the way to a school-record 32 wins, finishing 32-4 and reaching the CIF-Southern Section Division 6 quarterfinals, where it fell in four sets to runner-up Nordhoff of Ojai. Mary Star also won the Artesia Tournament and more importantly in their eyes, regained the Camino Real League championship by dethroning Bishop Amat of La Puente with two pressure-packed victories over the Lancers in October.
Two big reasons why the Stars were difficult to defeat hinge on the combined dominance of junior outside hitters Sammie Sabra and Arizona verbal commit Serena Ramirez.
When one of them was off, the other would come up huge. When both of them were on, the Stars were nearly unstoppable. Sabra and Ramirez both execute deadly jump serves, will go low to dig for hard serves and attacks whenever needed, and are equally lethal in their own attacks. In fact, Ramirez has delivered kill shots with either one of her arms even though she's a right-handed assassin. Sabra is the more powerful of the two.
Mary Star's dynamic duo compliment each other well, and they are not only All-CIF SS Division 6 selections, Sabra and Ramirez are your 2019 San Pedro News Pilot Prep Girls Volleyball Co-Players Of The Year.
Sabra, the Camino Real League MVP, finished with 278 kills, 116 digs and 74 aces, while Ramirez had 186 kills and 51 aces for Mary Star, who also got valuable contributions from senior outside hitter Marina Erosa, the junior setter tandem of Ashley Reyes and Lily Ruggiero, and sophomore middle blocker Marlena Rivera solidified the middle. All of them are All-Camino Real League selections for SPNP Prep Girls Volleyball Co-Coaches Of The Year Lauren Orebo & Sean Zuvich.
San Pedro wasn't able to successfully defend their CIF-Los Angeles City Section Division 1 championship they won a year ago, as Venice ended the Pirates' reign with a four-set semifinal win, but San Pedro (17-18 overall) and six-year head coach Christopher Ceballos finally conquered a huge mountain on October 3 when it swept Carson, ending the Colts' 71-match winning streak in Marine League play, making it a championship-like season nonetheless.
It was a combination of youth and experience for San Pedro, as senior outside hitter Alexis Avitia and junior middle blocker Adamaris Vega had career seasons, the incredible return after a year off from senior setter Rosie Lopez played a huge role, and the sudden rise of freshman libero Paige Courtney, another beach standout like Mary Star's Ramirez, added a new, fresh dynamic to San Pedro's style. All of them made the All-Marine League team, while Avitia, Lopez and Courtney were All-CIF LACS Division 1 selections.
And then there's the fantasy turned into reality year for Port Of Los Angeles.
Missing the playoffs for the first time in franchise history would cripple any program, but not the Polar Bears, who finished 15-7 overall and capping off one of the more inspiring one-year turnarounds ever on November 3, when it won the CIF-LACS Division 4 championship with a four-set victory over East Valley. The magical year ended in the opening round of the CIF Southern California Division 5 Regionals at Kerman, but it didn't change the fact that history was made for the San Pedro-based Charter high school.
Everyone for second-year coach Brian Justiniano had career seasons, none more notable than senior middle blocker Kaylen Scott, who's sensational performance during the Polar Bears' postseason resurgence earned her the honor of CIF-LACS Division 4 Player Of The Year. Juniors Lauren Brown and Kasandra Soria became even more bigger as the season progressed, and freshman Sasha Suggs emerged as another future star.
All in all, it was a sensational close to the decade. Cheers to more for the next decade to come.
ALL-SAN PEDRO NEWS PILOT PREP GIRLS VOLLEYBALL 2019
Marina Erosa (Mary Star, senior)
Rosie Lopez (San Pedro, senior)
Adamaris Vega (San Pedro, junior)
Marlena Rivera (Mary Star, sophomore)
Lauren Brown (POLA, junior)
Ashley Reyes (Mary Star, junior)
Sasha Suggs (POLA, freshman)
Cassidy Espinosa (San Pedro, jr.)
Mia DiCostanzo (POLA, jr.)
Anaiys Lopez (POLA, jr.)
Lily Ruggiero (Mary Star, jr.)
Alyson Watson (San Pedro, jr.)
Julia Magrini (Mary Star, sr.)
Georgie Smith (San Pedro, sr.)
Co-Players Of The Year: Sammie Sabra & Serena Ramirez, Mary Star, juniors.
Co-Most Outstanding Players: Alexis Avitia, San Pedro, senior; & Kaylen Scott, Port Of Los Angeles, senior.
Newcomer Of The Year: Paige Courtney, San Pedro, freshman.
Most Improved Player: Kasandra Soria, Port Of Los Angeles, junior.
Co-Coaches Of The Year: Sean Zuvich & Lauren Orebo, Mary Star.
SAN PEDRO NEWS PILOT PAST PREP GIRLS VOLLEYBALL PLAYERS OF THE YEAR
2011: Fina Ojeda, San Pedro
2012: Susana Sanchez, Port Of Los Angeles
2013: Angela Wade, Port Of Los Angeles
2014: Allison Kittell, San Pedro & Ally Spillane, Mary Star
2015: Ally Spillane, Mary Star
2016: Ally Spillane, Mary Star
2017: Selene Ramirez, San Pedro
2018: Lauren Sutrin & Sara Peterson, San Pedro.