(Walnut, CA) The most successful Mt. SAC Beach Volleyball season came to an end on Tuesday (May 2) in the CCCAA Southern California Regionals at "Mountie Beach."
The three-team regional consisted of El Camino, Grossmont, and Mt. SAC, vying for one spot to the state playoffs.
The Mounties, with their program-best 23-2 record, defeated El Camino in the early match, 3-2. Grossmont ended the season for El Camino, with a 3-2 win in the middle match and followed that with a 3-2 defeat of the Mounties in the afternoon match.
"It's been so fun to see them grow, especially them coming out for beach for their very first time last year," said Mt. SAC Beach Volleyball coach Danielle Diaz, of her sophomores, who came in as a group after COVID in 2022. "None of them had any experience and they're just beasts. They were so confident in themselves.
"It's been such a great experience. I love this school. I have so much gratitude for this school, for the administration, and for everyone with so much support. It's truly a dream job and I know I'm stepping down from this position. I'm so glad that I ended it with this team."
Mt. SAC 3, El Camino 2
The Mounties jumped out to a 2-0 lead over El Camino with the 1's (Riley DeGroot/Paige Gutowski) sweeping El Camino, 21-18, 21-14. At the same time on an adjacent court, the 4's (Liz Ortiz/Capri Salmon) also swept the warriors, 23-21. 21-16 for the 2-0 Mt. SAC lead.
El Camino cut the lead in half with a win in the 5's, to trail, 2-1. The El Camino 2's defeated Mt. SAC with a 2-0 sweep, 21-19, 21-12, to even the match at 2-2.
The deciding win for Mt. SAC was in the 3's, with a two-set sweep by the team of Angelina Burton/Riannel Arevalo for the 3-2 Mt. SAC win.
"We came in this season changing partners so much, and then finalized our partners," said Burton, who will be moving on to New Mexico Highlands University. "Our partnership was playing for each other, especially me and Ree (Arevalo). We just played for each other and balled out.
"Once we found out in our last game that we weren't going to state in the middle of it, we decided to play for each other and just wanted to remember each other."
The final match of the day was for the right to advance to the state championships.
Mt. SAC 2, Grossmont 3
Grossmont jumped out to a 2-0 lead winning both the 1's and 4's pairs in straight sets. The key set for the Mounties, in which they had to win to keep in the match, was the 5's.
The 5's (Kylie Rhodes/Zyra Green) took it to a third and final set but lost a close, 15-12 decision and Grossmont officially ended the match with three wins and qualified for state.
Mt. SAC won the final two sets, with the 2's (Allison Whiteman/Bristol Christelman) winning, 21-12, 21-11 and the 3's (Burton/Arevalo) also winning in a sweep, 27-25, 21-21-16, for the 3-2 final score.
"I think we really made a really big impact here at this school," said Arevalo, who along with many of the sophomores also played two successful indoor seasons at Mt. SAC. "We made a lot of history, and this core group of sophomores had a really big part in that. It's an experience we'll always remember."
Mt. SAC will still be represented with two pairs (DeGroot/Gutowski) and (Whiteman/Christelman) competing in the pairs So Cal's on Friday and Saturday (May 5,6) at El Camino with the winners moving on to the state pairs championships on May 11-12 at West Valley College in Saratoga. DeGroot will be transferring and playing at Whittier College next season, while sophomore JJ Quarrels will be playing at Catawba College in Salisbury, North Carolina.
What they said:
Allison Whiteman, sophomore: "It's been an amazing run and I'm super grateful for this program and all my teammates. I am really, really proud of us for the impact that we made in beach volleyball. I'm definitely going to miss all of my teammates and the coaching staff."
Riley DeGroot, sophomore: "It was a special group of girls. I think the success of Beach Volleyball this year is going to help the program in the future, and I am really excited for the girls and the freshmen to step it up next year.
Honestly, I just wanted to have fun and play hard."