By MIKEY HIRANO CULROSS
Rafu Sports Editor
With every point, the girls of South Pasadena are making school history.
The deepest run ever for the Tigers continues tonight, after South Pas staged an inspired comeback on Saturday, winning three straights sets in the CIF State Div. III Southern California Regional semifinals.
South Pas was stunned out of the gate by visiting Linfield Christian, dropping the first two sets and looking very much out of sync.
Whatever head coach Ivy Chew had to say during the intermission before Set 3 apparently did the trick, as the Tigers seemed to initiate a mental reboot.
“Consistency is what we try for, and that’s what I reminded them of, to keep fighting,” Chew said following the 21-25, 24-26, 25-19, 25-21, 15-13 victory.
Chew has dubbed the South Pas run in the State tournament the team’s “redemption tour,” after an earlier than expected exit from the CIF Southern Section playoffs.
“I’m super excited, and really proud of these girls, to be down ad have the guts to keep fighting,” Chew added.
Junior outside hitter Lola Foord had a whopping 27 kills for South Pas, who controlled each of the last three sets in front of a near-capacity crowd that included many Linfield Christian supporters.
Junior libero Lindsey Hirano seemed to come up with the big plays when her team needed them most, saving shots that helped to quell several rallies the visiting Lions could assemble.
The co-captain agreed that momentum at this stage of the playoffs is a huge factor, and that playing at home this far into the playoffs is a decided advantage for the second-seeded Tigers.
“I think we just needed to remind ourselves of what we’re playing for,” Hirano said of her team’s mindset after dropping the second set. “We just kept telling ourselves to remember why we’re here.”
Asked if she thought that sort of an approach can make a tangible difference, she said flatly, “It worked tonight.”
Hirano finished the match with 16 digs, three service aces and eight assists.
Assistant coach Chris Phanagan said playing on their home court added the X-factor for South Pas, and having someone like Hirano helping to steer the offense is priceless.
“She has a great volleyball I.Q.,” he said. “She knows the court, where everyone is, and she’s earned the repect of her coaches and her teammates.”
Tonight, South Pas (36-7) will match up with Palm Desert (27-9) in the Div. III SoCal Regional final at 6 p.m.
Because it is a regional final with a trip to the state championship on the line, the game may be played at a technically neutral site, South Pasadena Middle School, a mere three-minute walk from the high school.
The Tigers get to play in their hometown by virtue of No. 1 seed Central Valley Christian’s shutout loss to Palm Desert on Saturday.
Rafu Sports editor Mikey Hirano Culross has no family relation to anyone mentioned in this report.