East County Sports

Griffins’ Peña tabbed all-state; Olympians remove monkey



From staff and wire reports

Amanda Pena

WALNUT — Grossmont College sophomore Amanda Pena, a product of Hleix High, has been named to the all-3C2A state tournament team at the California community college state championship event held at Mt. San Antonio College over the weekend (Dec. 1-3).

Pena, an opposite (right-side hitter) helped lead the Griffins to a berth in the semifinals, when they were clipped by eventual state champion San Diego Mesa; the Olympians finished second to Grossmont in the Pacific Coast Athletic Conferece standings.

The selections were made by the state coaches association:

Kailyn Jager


MVP-Kailyn Jager, San Diego Mesa
Libero of the Tourney-Gee, Feather River
Setter of the Tourney-Jaiden Mojica, San Diego Mesa

EEmily ltrich, San Diego Mesa
Anna Bolich, Setter, Feather River
Faupula, MB, Feather River
Mia Bertolone, Setter, Irvine Valley
Amanda Pena, Opposite, Grossmont
Reese Ampi, Libero, American River
Druegan Davis, OH, Fresno City
Kyra Saiers, Libero, San Joaquin Delta
Autumn Rojelio, Libero, Ventura

The Finals

Jager, the state tournament MVP

Meanwhile, Mesa, the top seedsin the South region, swept both Grossmont and Feather River College to claim ots first state crown.

According o the state press release, the Olympians were backedinspired by a giant stuffed monkey.However, that’s not a first.

In the early 1980s, Mesa football was known for a studentwho just showed up one day wearing a gorilla custumn, joning the cheer squad on the sidelines unannounced.

Of course, her inclusion was no problem for a Mesas football team which went on to a bowl game that season.


Here is the state-issued press release from the California Community College Athletic Association on how esa “got the monkey off its back” to claim the syay crown.

SAN DIEGO MESA d. N3 FEATHER RIVER, 25-18, 25-23, 25-17

(WALNUT) — The South Region got the monkey off its back, and appropriately it was San Diego Mesa College celebrating with its an adopted mascot–a giant stuffed toy monkey–as the school accomplished its first state women’s volleyball title in school history, sweeping defending state champ Feather River in the 3C2A Championship match on Sunday.

The Olympians, the second place team from the Pacific Coast Athletic Conference, but the #1 seed from the South showed its worth in breaking the North’s Region streak of four straight championships. Mesa (29-2) had knocked off PCAC champion Grossmont in the semifinals and outperformed the Golden Eagles, red-hot coming into the match, in every facet of the game in the finals.

Tourney Most Valuable Player Kailyn Jager, a sophomore transfer outside hitter from MiraCosta College, scored 16 kills, made 10 digs and was part of three of the team’s eight block kills as she finished the championships with a tourney high 57 kills.

Setter Jaiden Mojica put on a clinic in setting, serving, and defense with 33 assists, four aces and seven digs while OH Emily Eltrich ripped nine kills, 10 digs, landed four aces of her own and added two blocks. Jaelyn Douglas (five kills, three blocks) and Sofia DelaCruz (three kills, five blocks) were a force at the net with Jager, Mojica, Eltrich, and Lia Go-Soco (eight digs, two aces) supplying superior defense and passing. Opposite Olivia Ostler added five kills and two blocks in an overall team performance where Mesa shredded FRC’s defense and block.

Although she was named Libero of the Tournament, Feather River’s talented Katherine Gee collected just 10 digs in a game plan by Mesa to avoid her.

“Sure, we planned on keeping the ball away of her because why would we want to put the ball in the hands in an All-American libero,” said Mesa head coach Bobbi Jo Stall-Vest. “Our defense was top-notch from everyone. All six of the players who serve for us are great servers. We were so dialed in as a team.”

Stall-Vest on Jager: “Some teams had game plans to tire her out, but even if she doesn’t make every serve receive, she finds a way to get it right. She is a tremendous passer, server, defender, hitter, and today she blocked better than in any match this season.”

Jager, who has committed to a NCAA Division I scholarship at UC Riverside, said, “We got into such a good rhythm from the start of the match and we bought in as a group. I think we wanted to prove to everyone that we earned that #1 seed because we did so well in pre-conference. It drove us to finally beat Grossmont, and we just carried that momentum into beating Feather River.”

Feather River head coach Sarah Ritchie felt her team didn’t perform to expectations. “Our defense and block has been our strength all season, and it left us today. We couldn’t pass and maybe the moment was too much for us.”

In the opening set, Feather River struggled, hitting a negative .091 overall while Mesa started out strong on an ace and kill by Eltrich for an early 3-0 lead. Douglas floored a kill that increased it to 13-7, and Jager landed a kill to make it 17-11. Gee served three straight aces to pull FRC back in it at 17-16, but Mesa withstood the push on an Ostler kill and block with DelaCruz. Go-Soco tossed an ace for a 7-point set victory.

In the second set, both teams attack got going with FRC hitting .324 and Mesa also hitting its best set clip at .286. Jager gave the Olympians a 20-15 on a hard drive before Feather River put together its best run of the match on a 6-0 serving run by Kristine Bakhad (one of her two aces) to take a 21-20 lead. Trailing 23-22, Mesa got three straight kills from DelaCruz, Jager and Eltrich to close out a 2-point win.

In the final set, the rallies were short as Mesa gained momentum. An Eltrich kill capped a 7-2 run for a 13-8 lead. A Jager-DelaCruz stuff made it 17-11 and an Ostler kill off an assist by Jager inched Mesa closer to the title at 19-13. Eltrich served the team’s 12th ace and fittingly Jager rifled a kill for match point to set off a team celebration.

For FRC, Emma Daugherty scored 10 kills, Ashlee Kraft eight kills (.300) and Anna Bolich collected 21 assists and two kills. Kenyia Cleveland supplied a brief spark off the bench with two kills while Kiyana Faupula had four blocks.

On Mojica, named Setter of the Tournament, Stall-Vest said, “I think Jaiden is the most overlooked setter in the state. She led the state in kills and just passed 1,000 assists this year, and what’s even better is she plays defense like a libero because she was a libero (in travel ball).”

Stall-Vest reflected on her run in directing the program to the title.

“I played for Mesa (2006), and when I became head coach in 2018, I had one goal to turn us into the best community college team in the state. We had such a tremendous buy-in by our players, including our bench in being so supportive to our goals. We had an incredible drive to win.”

There were more liberos (four) on the 12-player all-tourney team than outside hitters (three).

San Diego Mesa had reached the state final one other time in 2004 under Stall-Vest’s head coach Kim Lester, who was in attendance at the final.

Mesa becomes just the 13th different college to win a state championship.