Notebook: Granada Hills girls volleyball captures elusive Open Division City title

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For the last two seasons, Granada Hills Charter has settled for runner-up in the City Section Open Division finals. But on Friday night, the Highlanders stepped into the spotlight as champions.

“After falling short for two years, it was a big relief,” coach Tom Harp said. “It just always feels good to win that final game.”

Granada Hills Charter beat West Valley League foe Taft in four sets (25-16, 23-25, 25-22, 25-18) to secure the program’s first City Section title since 2017. It was the third time it beat Taft this season after picking up wins in five and four sets in October and November, respectively.

Outside hitter Hannah Bernstein returned for the championship game after missing the quarterfinals and semifinals due to illness. She led the team with 19 kills, followed by Valeria Bellodas-Lazo, who had 15. Mason Kelley had 48 assists at setter.

The Highlanders (23-7) played the championship game at Cal State Northridge, a setting that brought in a big, loud crowd.

“When you walk in and all of a sudden you’re at a college, you know you’re there for a special event,” Harp said. “This was really good. Hopefully they can continue having it at Northridge.”

A day after the Highlanders’ win, Buckley of Sherman Oaks swept Marina in the CIF-SS Division 5 finals at Cerritos College on Saturday.

First-year head coach Otis Glasgow helmed Buckley to its first CIF-SS championship since 2017 as the Griffins improved to 25-3 ahead of the state playoffs.

“This is my first year as a head coach,” Glasgow said after the match. “I’ve been a head coach for about six months or so, I’m not really feeling it at the moment right now. I’m riding a high right now and it’s amazing.”

Buckley has earned a bye in the first round of the CIF State Division III playoffs and will pay the winner of Kennedy and Sage Creek in the second round on Nov. 10.

Fulton of Van Nuys beat Belmont in the City Section Division V finals. The Jaguars finished the season 10-15 overall.

Other teams come up just short

Simi Valley was swept by Arrowhead Christian in the CIF-SS Division 6 championship game after sweeping all of its playoff opponents leading up to the finals.

The Pioneers were swept by El Camino Real in the CIF State Division III playoffs.

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AGBU fell to Excelsior Charter in the CIF-SS Division 9 finals in four sets. The Titans moved on to the Division V state playoffs, but were swept by Orange Vista.

Birmingham lost to San Pedro the City Section Division II championship game in four sets, then was swept by Santa Ynez in the first round of the CIF State Division IV playoffs on Tuesday night.

Kennedy came up short in the City Section Division II playoffs against University, falling in a sweep, then lost to Sage Creek in the first round of the state Division III playoffs.

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