Heading into the playoffs, the Redondo Union girls’ volleyball team has an impressive 70-7 record over the past two years. They've also been ranked one of the best high school teams in the country, earning a No. 1 ranking early in the season.
Here at home, the Sea Hawk have been nearly unbeatable. They've captured the Bay League title seven of the last eight years.
The only blemishes on the schedule this year have come when their best player, Kami Miner, is not in the lineup. The team is 35-3 overall this year. Their losses came at Torrey Pines and in the Durango Fall Classic in Las Vegas against James Logan and Leon.
With Miner in the lineup, they have not lost.
“We have yet to lose a set when all our players are here,” said Redondo Union girls’ volleyball head coach Tom Chaffins. “We hope that trend continues.”
The Sea Hawks are ranked No. 3 by PrepVolleyball.com and No. 7 by USA Today Super 25 Expert Rankings nationally.
Redondo Union currently has a 14-match win streak heading into the CIF Southern Section Division 1 playoffs and are the No. 1 seed. They played Aliso Niguel in their first match yesterday and if they win will play again on Saturday.
They go into this year’s CIF-Southern Section playoffs and the CIF-State Championships with a chip on their shoulder.
Last year the team went 35-4, but got ousted in the semifinals at CIF and CIF-State, so they played for a championship in neither and have nothing but a Bay League title to show for it.
“That was a tough loss for us, both CIF and state we fell short and that really sunk in,” said Redondo Union senior middle blocker Jody Smith. “We try to focus on the future more than on the past and it is definitely a learning experience. That is what drives us to go farther this year.”
“It definitely is in the back of my mind,” Miner said. “We have been knocked out in semis since my freshman year. We are just going to have to take it one match at a time. Not worry about the past. Just keeping getting better each match, focusing on what we’ve been doing all year.”
This year they are determined to not let that happen again.
“We’re coming in with like a new view,” said senior defensive specialist Toni Felix. “We have this thing in our mind and it’s all we have been focused on since we first stepped in this gym this summer is we imagine ourselves with that ring on our finger. I think that is what is pushing us every day.”
It all starts with Miner, who helped the the U18 U.S. Girls' Youth National Team win the gold medal in the FIVB Girls' U18 World Championship for the first time ever this year in Egypt.
“It is awesome to have accomplished the ultimate goal winning the world championships,” Miner said. “It was pretty cool to accomplish that, set that goal and actually reach it. It made all of the long training hours worth it.”
Now that she is back things are normal again and the Sea Hawks are dominating once again.
While her absence surely affected the Redondo Union team, it did two things while she was gone.
It gave other players a chance to fill in for her and gave other playing opportunities that only enhances Redondo Union’s depth. It also allowed Miner to get even better playing with the best at her age group in the United States. She also brought some of what she learned from that experience and brought it back to the team helping them get even better.
“The team performed awesome when I was gone and it gave other girls an opportunity to get better and us to have balance with our lineup,” Miner said.
With Miner back, they play at another level. Nalani Iosia stepped in her place as a setter when she was gone and was happy to give her spot back when she returned.
“A really big relief,” Iosia said. “Because she is just a really strong player on the court and she is really dependable on and off the court. She is one of my best friends. Playing with her is like one of the best things ever.”
Iosia is going to attend University of Texas next year and play for the Longhorns.
Redondo Union has nine NCAA Division 1 college commits on its roster and that does not count Miner, who is a junior. They have talent and size that you see on many college teams.
Turning things around this year started by opening the season with a tournament championship in Hawaii. Another big win this year was against Mater Dei, down two sets and they were trailing in the third, but came back to win in five sets.
They swept Mira Costa in the Bay League and that was another impressive accomplishment.;
“I feel so blessed to coach so many players that are so unselfish,” Chaffins said. “Everyone has put all their personal desires aside. They trust the coaches and the decisions. We have just been phenomenal teammates with all that talent. It has been a lot of fun.”