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Girls Volleyball

Laguna Blanca KO’s La Reina in CIF State Volleyball Opener

Owls get a rematch with Woodcrest Christian in quarterfinals

Laguna Blanca setter Kelly Bickett handed out 55 assists in a four-set win over La Reina in a CIF State Tournament match.
Laguna Blanca setter Kelly Bickett handed out 55 assists in a four-set win over La Reina in a CIF State Tournament match. (JC Corliss / Noozhawk file photo)

Laguna Blanca put together a solid performance and knock off fourth-seeded La Reina in a Division 3 first-round game of the CIF State Girls Volleyball Tournament on Wednesday night in Thousand Oaks.

Sparked by the stellar setting of Kelly Bickett, the Owls rebounded from a first-set loss and won the match, 22-25 25-19, 25-23, 25-15. They now get a rematch with Woodcrest Christian in a quarterfinal match on Saturday in Riverside. Woodcrest Christian rallied for a five-set win at Laguna Blanca in the Southern Section Division 6 semifinals.

La Reina entered Wednesday's match as the Southern Section Division 5 runner-up. The Regents were worn down by Laguna Blanca's hot hitting and tremendous ball control.

Bickett dished out 55 assists and three hitters posted double-digit kills and hit over .300. Laurel Kujan led the way with 20 kills on a sizzling .543 hitting percentage. Caylin Zimmerman had 15 kills on a .304 average and Julia Fay delivered 12 kills on .423 hitting.

"It was a really quality win for us against a good team," Laguna coach Jason Donnelly said. "It was nice to see us respond from a tough week. Once we settled into the match we were able to take control for most of the night."

Assistant coach Kat Niksto raved about the performance of Bickett.

"Kelly did a great job running the offense, especially setting the middles (Julia and Laurel) who were both almost unstoppable," she said. "We once again got into a lot of long rallies, and our defense was solid against a couple very strong outside hitters. This was truly a team win that the girls earned through their hard work and determination."

Libero Sophia Fay's 29 digs led an impressive defensive effort by the Owls, who had five players post double-digit dig counts. Bickett picked up 21 digs, Kendall White 20, Maddy Nicolson 19 and Zimmerman 13.

The Owls improve to 26-2.

In other action, Santa Ynez lost in four sets at top-seeded Bakersfield Christian.

Noozhawk sports editor Barry Punzal can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk Sports on Twitter: @NoozhawkSports. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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