Midnight strikes on OLA’s Cinderella season

Our Lady of the Assumption Catholic School volleyball team player Bliss Alix prepares to serve during practice last week. Courier photo/Andrew Alonzo

by Andrew Alonzo | aalonzo@claremont-courier.com

Just two days after the Courier interviewed Our Lady of the Assumption first team head coach Lissette Reeder and assistant Sonia Jordan about the volleyball program’s undefeated regular season, it struck midnight on the team’s Cinderella season.

The Claremont private school was bested in two sets by Foothill East League runner-up St. Philip the Apostle Saturday, October 28 in the first round of the Catholic Youth Organization Los Angeles open division playoffs at Cantwell Sacred Heart High School in Montebello.

The team finished undefeated in the Mountain East League at 8-0, 9-1 overall.

OLA volleyball head coach Lissette Reeder talks with player Mia Ramirez during practice last week. Courier photo/Andrew Alonzo

The last time OLA appeared in CYOLA’s open division tournament was in 2017 when, strangely enough, it also played on a Saturday dated October 28, a first-round loss to St. Paul the Apostle.

Jordan, in her first year coaching volleyball, said it was a joy to be a part of her daughter Milena’s last year at OLA and to coach such a good group of players. Coach Reeder, who stepped into the head coaching role this year after serving as assistant coach in 2022, echoed her assistant’s comments in that her daughter Rose is also a member of the team.

Reeder said last week that consistent practices played a role in “letting the girls know that if they’re passionate, then they have to put the work in.”

“It’s game by game,” Coach Reeder said. “It’s never ‘It’s going to be a sweep. It’s going to be easy.’ We knew it was going to take work [to go undefeated] and we knew they were in it to try to go all the way. We had to make sure that they were in the right mindset. They couldn’t just go in there thinking ‘Oh, we got this’ all the time. It’s ‘We’re going to play as a team. We’re going to work to win,’ and so far, they’ve proven that.”

The team credits one another with positive reinforcement, which added to the calm atmosphere this year. Eighth grade middle blocker Rose Reeder said if there was a problem, the girls worked quickly to resolve it.

“We’ve always said, ‘We need to talk on the court girls!’” Rose said. “We come back at practices and we work on it. And it’s always positive communication. That’s what helps us.”

“If they make a mistake, we encourage them to do the best that they can,” Coach Jordan said. “As a team, they just need to know that the number one thing is to be supportive of one another regardless of it being a positive or negative thing during the game.”

Rose said teamwork and camaraderie helped the girls dig deep to overcome the likes of St. Louise de Marillac, a recent five-set scrimmage with St. Andrew Catholic School in Pasadena, and their main rivals, Holy Name of Mary, during their perfect regular season. Eighth grade middle blocker Emmerson Ramierez said the streak was fun since it meant the team’s hard work at practice was being translated onto the court. She thanked her coaches for motivating the team and helping them correct mistakes.

“I think the players during games see how important it is to be competitive,” Coach Jordan said. “I think they have the competitive nature in them already. I think us as coaches, we definitely show them how competitive the game is and how they should be focused.”

“It’s good to have that balance, that you want to play competitively, but you also want to make sure that you’re not putting each other down,” Coach Reeder added.

To that point, Emmerson and Rose said it wasn’t hard balancing being a friend to their classmates in the morning then encouraging them on the court in the afternoon.

“I balance it out pretty evenly, like they’re my friends on the court and we can be competitive, just be mindful of their feelings,” Rose said. “When they do something wrong, I just keep it down and help them out. During the game we usually cope it out in like chants that we do. We always work really well together; we always have a great time.”

OLA’s first team this year included Emmerson and Rose, as well Kaela Grier, Lesley Butler, Alena Gomez, Giada Mosaquites, Kendra Struempf, Milena Jordan, Bliss Alix, Madde Hayden, Ella Voltaire, Mia Ramirez, Sonya Marmolejo and Joy Assaf (injured).

Emmerson is planning on continuing her volleyball career and education at St. Lucy’s Priory High School in Glendora while Rose will be heading to Pomona Catholic next year.

Though postseason glory was not in the cards this year, the future bodes well for OLA’s volleyball program as its second team, OLA II, finished Mountain East League play in fifth place at 4-4, with one of those losses at the hands of their first team counterparts.


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