SAMOHI — The Vikings had home court advantage, the gym was packed to the rafters with Samohi faithful, but that didn’t intimidate the road team a bit.

Pasadena Poly swept Santa Monica High School’s girls’ volleyball team in three games (25-18, 25-14, 25-15) Tuesday on campus, ending the Vikings’ hopes of reaching the CIF-Southern Section Division 3AA final.

After falling behind briefly in the first game, Poly was able to regroup in a hostile environment and handily end Samohi’s season in the semifinals. Poly will face Chadwick on Saturday in the final at Cypress College.

Despite the stinging loss, Head Coach Liane Sato was anything but disappointed.

“It was a tough loss,” Sato said. “But, it was a great season. We kept getting better every game.”

Sato and the Vikings entered the season ranked No. 1 in Division 3AA. They would slip to No. 3 by the time the playoffs began, but were consistently one of the top teams in the division. That proved true for Samohi, who again dominated the Ocean League en route to the league crown.

Despite the loss, Samohi senior Sarah Krenik, who has been one of the team’s primary offensive weapons this season, was pleased with her squad in defeat.

“I thought we came out and fought hard,” she said. “It could have worked out better, but I’m proud of the girls.”

Krenik, like Sato, felt that the Vikings continued to improve during the course of the season leading to the team’s long playoff run.

That maturation was one of the things that Poly head coach Steve Beerman took away from the Panther’s meeting with Samohi.

“They have a nice team,” he said amid Poly’s post-game celebration. “Santa Monica is always a good team. We knew it wouldn’t be easy.”

He attributed the win to Poly’s ability to keep the Vikings off balance. It showed on the court as Samohi struggled to set up kill opportunities all night. His team’s ability to make the Vikings scramble to regroup wound up being the difference in the match.

Sato agreed with Beerman’s assessment.

“They forced us to get out to a slow start,” Sato said. “They just kept hitting it where we weren’t.”

daniela@www.smdp.com

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