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(Photo by DeeDeee Jackson)
(Photo by DeeDeee Jackson)

ELAC Volleyball Nets Historic Season

MONTEREY PARK, CA — With volleyball on the rise in recent years at East Los Angeles College, the 2017-18 Huskies campaign earned its first winning season in more than 25 years.

ELAC finished 13-11 overall and 4-4 in South Coast Conference North Division play, which was good enough for a placed third finish.

“Winning is always a good feeling,” said Head Coach Elliott Walker. “Wrapping up the season 13-11 is great for ELAC and most importantly for the student-athletes.”

“The ladies have come a long way mastering many game concepts and overcoming personal obstacles. The season's result is a testament to the work put in,” said Walker. “Now that they have accomplished these tasks, growth is imminent in the next season. I am proud of what the ladies have accomplished.”  

The Huskies earned their winning record with a season-ending SCC home game win against Chaffey College 3-1 (21-25, 25-16, 25-14, 25-21). Freshman outside hitter Bela Gamboa (Downey HS) ended her first season with a game-high 18 kills. Sophomore setter Taryn Higareda (Rosemead HS) ended her ELAC volleyball career with a game-high 24 assists.

After the victory, Higareda and outside hitter Miranda Moisa (Downey HS) were given recognition on Sophomore Night.

“Sophomore Night is not easy,” said Walker. “Having the opportunity to watch players mature and grow in the game is always a joy. It's difficult emotionally when the time comes for them to move on.”

“Taryn (Higareda), a former defensive player turned secondary setter, will be missed, but will always have a place in my heart,” said Walker. “She has been a leader on and off the court despite the odds of being the only returner from last year's team.”

“Taryn (Higareda) played two years for EAST and during that time she has grown into a well-rounded student-athlete. Her smile and energy were always a pleasure and a blessing,” said Walker. “I am proud of what she has accomplished and look forward to seeing great things from her as she prepares to move on and play at the next level.”

Moisa was expected to perform when called upon and that she did. In three straight games, two on the road, Moisa totaled 19 digs and 13 assists in wins against LA Harbor College and Chaffey College sandwiched with a game at powerhouse and No. 13 Long Beach City College (18-5). Not intimidated, Moisa came through with 7 assists and a team-high 7 digs at Long Beach in a match that she started.

Three Huskies were named to the All-SCC North Teams. Higareda was named to the First Team. Two freshmen were named to the Second Team, middle hitter Daija Walton (Perris HS) and middle hitter Kayla Dickerson (Bell Gardens HS).

Huskies get state leading stats

ELAC led the state in three categories during the regular season out of 91 teams. The Huskies had the most blocks in the state with 238. ELAC was also No. 1-ranked in solo blocks with 185 and No. 1 with the most blocks-per-set average of 2.70.

ELAC finished No. 2 in the state during the regular season for most points-per-set average with 17.1.

Individually, Walton finished the regular season ranked No. 1 in the state for solo blocks. She was No. 5 with total blocks (block solos & assists) and No. 6 statewide in the blocks-per-set category. Walton was seventh best in the state with an offensive hitting percentage of .402 percent.

Dickerson, a force on the floor, finished No. 8 in the state in hitting percentage with a .385 clip and she was No. 18 statewide in solo blocks with 40.

Gamboa and Higareda’s final hitting percentage of .304 and .294, respectively, finished No. 32 and 36 from a field of almost 900 statewide women volleyball players.

Walton led the team in kills, attacks and hitting percentage. She had 218 kills, 405 attacks and a .402 hitting percentage. Higareda led the team in assists with 212. Freshman libero Victoria Trejo (Downey HS) led the team with the most service aces, 47. Gamboa’s stellar play included a team-leading 448 attacks.

Freshman Makkena Ryan (Oakdale HS) led ELAC in digs with 179 despite missing a quarter of the season at full strength due to an injury. Freshman setter Aifili Tuita'u (Cajon HS) led the team in kills-per-set with an average of 3.73. 

Dickerson scored 256 points for the Huskies and hit .430 percent in the SCC, second best to Walton’s No. 1 spot. Freshman outside hitter Yicel Quintero (South Gate HS) smacked 242 attacks, had 101 kills and scored 140 points. Freshman libero Ashley Castillo (Garfield HS) came through with 160 digs, two per set.

Freshman setter Rachel Cruz (Garfield HS) had a great hitting percentage of .333 percent and she had 151 assists. Giselle Arredondo (South Gate HS) played in only half of ELAC’s matches and only 25 sets and had a .360 hitting percent off of 25 attacks. Moisa, who entered the season late, played in only seven matches and had almost two digs per set.  

ELAC’s previous non-losing record was during the 2005 season when the Huskies finished 10-10. ELAC finished 9-14 last season in 2016, 10-15 in 2015 and 12-13 in 2014. The Huskies look to improve on their 13-11 record and third place in the SCC North.

All freshmen are eligible to return next season. According to Walker, the team should improve including with the addition of a strong recruiting class.

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story submitted by Tadzio Garcia