For the third time in the last four years, Maranatha played in the CIF-SS Div. 5 playoffs (MHS was in Div. 4 last season), reaching at least the semi-finals each time. In 2014, they won the CIF-SS Div. 5 title. In 2015, they lost in the semis, 9-9. 2017 turned out to be deja vu as the Lady Minutemen lost 9-9 once again.
The similarities of this match to the 2015 semi-final match were uncanny. Both times Maranatha came in as the #1 seed and faced the #4 seed from large public schools in north Orange County. Both times Maranatha held a 4-2 lead after the first round. Both times the score was 6-6 after two rounds. Both ended in 9-9 ties, with MHS coming up just short on games.
Today’s semi-final was a heavyweight match-up between the only two teams who have held the #1 ranking in Div. 5 this season. It was a back and forth affair, with Orange starting off, 2-0. Maranatha then reeled off four straight sets, with Angela Hsieh and Malena Smith winning in singles and Maddie Hernandez/Michael Wilkins and Reagan Atallah/Aria Haver-Hill winning in doubles. The Lady Panthers went on their own run to start the second round, pulling ahead, 5-4, before Hernandez/Wilkins tied it up at 5-5. Two of Orange’s doubles sets were won, 6-0, which would prove costly for the Lady Minutemen in the end.
All eyes turned to the final two sets of the second round, with Hsieh and Smith both engaged in dog fights, 4-4 and 5-5 respectively. Smith’s match ended first, with Smith narrowly losing in a tie-breaker, 6-7, in an epic battle, and giving Orange a 6-5 lead. Hsieh finally prevailed in easily the longest set of the day, 7-5, tying the score at 6-6.
The final round of play opened with Orange’s #1 doubles and Hsieh each producing off-setting 6-0 victories. Orange’s #1 singles won next, 6-0, followed by Hernandez/Wilkins winning, 6-3, evening the match at 8-8. Orange’s #3 doubles then won, 6-2, leaving Smith’s match versus the Lady Panther’s best player as the final set of the day. Smith pulled off the upset, 7-5 to even the score at 9-9.
When a match ends in a 9-9 tie, all the games in all the sets are counted to determine the winner. When all was said and done, the Lady Minutemen lost five of their sets, 0-6, while Hsieh produced MHS’s only two 6-0 wins. That proved to be the difference.
This marks the end of the careers of seniors Angela Hsieh, Reagan Atallah, Madelyn Hernandez, and Hellen Hong.
Hsieh, a four-year starter and a two-year captain, concludes her illustrious career with a CIF Div. 5 title, two semi final appearances, three Olympic league team titles, two Olympic league Singles MVP’s (106-2 in league, 94 consecutive), four 1st Team All-League selections, two league tournament singles champion and two-time finalist, four CIF Indviduals appearances, and an overall career mark of 210-26.
Atallah, a four-year varsity member, three-year starter, and two-year captain, concludes her career with a CIF Div. 5 title, three Olympic League team titles, a 1st Team All-League selection, and two 2nd Team All-League selections. Atallah hardly played her first year but improved each year to earn her first 1st Team All-League selection this season.
Hernandez, a three-year starter and a two-year captain, leaves as the reigning Olympic League doubles MVP (along with Michael Wilkins), a two-time league tournament doubles champion, a two-time 1st Team All-League selection, a 2nd Team All-League selection, two Olympic League team titles, and two CIF Individuals appearances. She improved each season, going 50-4 in her final two league seasons, and an impressive 12-0 with Wilkins during this year’s playoff run.
Hong is a three-year varsity member. Like Atallah, she started with little ability, but improved each season, eventually breaking out this season to become the league tournament doubles finalist (with Stella Wang), a 1st Team All-League selection, and a CIF Individuals participant. She and Wang posted an impressive 22-4 league mark this season.