The Grove School meets Packinghouse Christian Academy, a battle of Lilliputian-sized schools. Both have fewer than 200 students — a tussle Jonathan Swift would love.  

I meet Grove volleyball coach Kevin Spencer. He shakes my hand.

“I’m going to need last names for all your girls,” I say, gesturing at his list of Lillys and Elaines and Sages.  

I say hello to Packinghouse coach Denise Nordquist. Her daughters, Allison and Miranda, lead the Bears. So does Pearl Harry, a mop-top marvel.    


The match is played at the Redlands Community Center. For me it is like Bill Buckner walking back into Shea Stadium. This is where I coached a winless youth basketball team. The memory stings. But I digress.  

Aces are wild

I mainly know The Grove for its Saturday farmers’ market. But the Ravens shine in volleyball, too.  

Trailing the match 1-0 in sets and 23-19 on the scoreboard, The Grove’s Lilly Quintana steps to the service line.  

“I love you Lilly,” a classmate yells. She pounds an ace. Then another. And a third. The Ravens tie the match 1-1 and dance to midcourt.  

  Cool venues

The Grove middle school and high schools are public charter schools. They are in the Heritage Park area of Redlands.  

The middle school is a working farm. I have bought a tomato or two at its market.   

The layout also includes the Barton School House, built in 1901. It is one of Redlands’ oldest buildings.  

Packinghouse Christian is also a trip. It was originally a Sunkist packinghouse and 2 acres of land. Calvary Chapel Christian School, they called it.  

Later, 22½ acres were added, and they renamed it Packinghouse Christian.

Sudden joy

Down 2 sets to 1, Packinghouse leads the fourth 20-18. But then The Grove’s Quintana pounds three kills and smiles broadly. Finally, the Ravens’ Emiko Watanabi hits a winner, and the match is over. First place is theirs, at least for the moment.  

The Ravens zip to mid-court and whoop and holler. There is joy in Lilliput, and Redlands, too.   

John Murphy may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @PrepDawg2.