Elia Rubin pressed her hands to her head and then raised her hand to the sky in an instant shock.
A second earlier, one of her normally impenetrable pimples had been decisively blocked by senior Mater Dei Chanel Puez, and Marymount faced the consequences she experienced for just the seventh time in a season – an online defeat.
Suddenly, despite a 2-1 loss overall, the Monarchs had every opportunity in Saturday’s CIF Southern Division 1 Women’s Volleyball Championship. And at the start of the fourth they played like that, holding back Marymount’s attacks with a solid block and maintaining an early lead.
So Rubin clapped her hands, gave her a dead look, and set to work.
And, clinging to the one-point advantage at the set moment as Mater Dei fought for every last breath, Rubin took off in a surge that simply could not be blocked, giving Marymount a 3-1 win (27-25, 25-23, 23-25 , 25-23) and the end of the undefeated season.
“I noticed a slight misunderstanding between [Mater Dei] players, and I thought, “It’s bad!” – said Rubin. “Oh my gosh, that was crazy.”
The Monarchs never gave up, and in the fourth set it seemed that the tide was moving away from the Sailors. Marymount found herself in an uncharacteristic position for her – playing from behind.
However, 5-3, there was Rubin soaring two kills in a row. With a score of 10-8, Rubin had a perfect kill in the dead zone in the corner of Mater Dei.
She lost 11-9 and increased 17-16 in the final kill, never letting Marymount lose any momentum on her way to a 3-1 victory.
“I like to try to be strong for my teammates, because when we have all these emotions, I need to try to be the center of attention,” Rubin said.
As the ball hit the floor, the Sailors pounced on Rubin in sheer delight, supporting their vocal leader throughout the season.
“This is an incredibly close-knit group,” coach Kari Klein said before the game. She noticed that several people on the team, such as Rubin, had come out of a winning season at Klein’s Sunshine Volleyball Club, and she noticed that the group entered the season already knowing how to play well together.
Traveling to Las Vegas and Arizona for tournaments simply brought the team closer together as the team threw dance parties and dressed up in overalls for the bus rides.
But behind the cheerful mood was a murderous concentration.
After finishing a 33-5 season ahead of the pandemic that ended in a disappointing playoff defeat to Torrey Pines, Klein knew she and her team had high expectations.
“We still have unfinished business,” Klein said. “I had a thought that next year we will have a fairly focused group.”
Still, even with the retention of the CIF title and celebration erupting among her, Rubin is aiming for more. “It’s not over yet,” she said. “We still have a state.”
Venice won the girls’ volleyball championship in the city’s open division, beating the Granada Hills 25-23, 25-15, 25-15 on Lake Balboa in Birmingham.