CHULA VISTA - Two of Grossmont College's five pairs won all three of their matches on Thursday, including in the title match against Long Beach City College, as the Griffins claimed their first CCCAA Women's Beach Volleyball Championship since 2016 with a 3-1 win over Long Beach City College at the Chula Vista Elite Athlete Training Center.
Grossmont is the first two-time champion in the five-season history of CCCAA beach volleyball. The Griffins beat Irvine Valley College for their first banner in 2016.
"Today was a blast," said Grossmont head coach Jamie Ivers. "It was fun. The girls worked so hard all season and mentally and physically were exactly where we needed them to be. They truly took every individual loss that we had and learned from it and grew from it and it's exciting, it's fun."
The Griffins, who beat El Camino (3-2 score) and Gavilan (4-1) to win their pool, were decisive in their victory against a strong Long Beach squad that dispatched Irvine Valley and Sierra by 4-1 scores to claim first-place in the other pool. Grossmont won their three matches in the championship in straight sets.
The teams of Alexcis Morris-Ashley Goycoochea at No. 2 and Shaney Lipscomb-Kylee Snyder at No. 5 were a big part of the Griffins' success on Thursday with each capturing victories in their two pool play matchups as well the championship. Morris and Goycoochea beat Long Beach's Jessica Blakeman-Kyle Irwin-Paz (21-13, 21-13) to give the Griffins a team point while Lipscomb-Snyder downed the Vikings' Emma Harris-Calissa Candalot (21-17, 21-17) provided another.
Grossmont clinched its second state championship when the No. 4 pair of Julia Helden-Jamie Sakesegawa turned back Long Beach's Elsa Woods-Kaitlin Peterson (21-16, 21-18), setting off a wild Griffin's celebration. Doris Woods and Isabella Alvarez beat Amber Colton-Cheyanne Johnson (21-17, 21-11) at No. 3 for Long Beach's lone team point while the matchup between Fia Faa'agi-Desi Elizondo of Grossmont and the Vikings' Sierra Davis-Brooklin Mize at No. 1 was stopped once the match was clinched with both duos having each claimed a set.
The Griffins have appeared in four of the five state championship tournaments, missing only last season.
"Last year left kind of a yucky taste in our mouth," Ivers said. "We knew that we were really talented and my opinion, kind of blew it mentally, and we're lucky that we returned a lot of players from last year, so they also had that super yucky taste in their mouths."
Grossmont was almost playing a home match since it's campus in El Cajon is only about 15 miles away. The location was a big motivator for the Griffins, said Faa'agi, who teamed with Desi Elizondo to go undefeated during pool play.
"I think it was a great opportunity for our team," she said. "We all just buckled down and realized, this is home, this is for us. We worked this hard to come this far, so, it was point after point. Our team is not a mental team, we're a physical team, so, if we were down by two or three, we just come back and I think it was the fight that brought us back and the fact that last year we were short. We used that as motivation to come and win it this year."
"It's amazing," she said. "Honestly, this team is amazing and I love every single one of them. What better way (than) to win it at home with the best team I've ever played with and so it feels so good. It's a bittersweet moment because I'm leaving, but it's just amazing."
The Vikings clinched their pool with a 4-1 win over Sierra in the final match before the championship, winning at No. 2 through No. 5 in straight sets. Two of their wins against Irvine Valley came in three sets, including an exciting come-from-behind 19-21, 21-11 and 22-20 victory by Elisa Woods-Kaitlin Peterson at No. 4.
Long Beach City has been a regular in the state championship and its growth and consistency has been a source of Olympic beach volleyball gold medalist and legend Misty May-Treanor, the Vikings' head coach.
"It's kind of interesting because we're still in our infancy as a program and to make three state final appearances, it's been amazing," she said. "We set certain goals throughout the year and the athletes coming in, they may not have the same goals as us but we push them towards that direction.
"It says a lot about the work that our athletes put in," she added. "We have a dedicated coaching staff. We get such a short time with (the athletes), just two years to create such a big difference, and they've done a tremendous job. My kudos is really to the athletes buying into what the process is, but also to my fabulous coaching staff, it takes the village we have, that makes this possible."
Competition continues on Friday with pairs play. Competitors will take part in pool play with the top finishers advancing to bracket play on Saturday.
|CCCAA BEACH VOLLEYBALL TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP RESULTS|
|GROSSMONT (3) LONG BEACH CITY (1)|
|No. 1||Fia Faa'agi/Desi Elizondo (GC)||DNF||Sierra Davis/Brooklin Mize (LBCC)||16-21, 21-17,|
|No. 2||Alexcis Morris/Ashley Goycoochea (GC)||def.||Jessica Blakeman/Kylee Irwin-Paz (LBCC)||21-13, 21-13|
|No. 3||Doris Woods/Isabella Alvarez (LBCC)||vs.||Amber Colton/Cheyanne Johnson (GC)||21-17, 21-11|
|No. 4||Julia Holden/Jamie Sakesegawa (GC)||def.||Elsa Woods/Kaitlin Peterson (LBCC)||21-16, 21-18|
|No. 5||Shaney Lipscomb/Kylee Snyder (GC)||def.||Emma Harris/Calissa Candalot (LBCC)||21-17, 21-17|
|POOL PLAY RESULTS||POOL #1||POOL #2|
|Grossmont 3, El Camino 2||GC, 3-2||Grossmont||2-0||Long Beach City||2-0|
|Irvine Valley 4, Sierra 1||IVC, 4-1||El Camino||1-1||Irvine Valley||1-1|
|El Camino 3, Gavilan 2||ECC, 3-2||Gavilan||0-2||Sierra||0-2|
|Long Beach City 4, Irvine Valley 1||LBCC, 4-1|
|Grossmont 4, Gavilan 1||GC, 4-1|
|Sierra 4, Long Beach City 1||LBCC, 4-1|
(Mike Robles, CCCAA)