Top-seeded Newport Harbor High School and second-seeded Corona del Mar will have a lot in common when they meet at 8:45 tonight in the Southern Section 5-A girls' volleyball final at Marina High school.
The Sea View League teams already have met twice this season in league play, with Newport Harbor winning both matches--15-10, 8-15, 15-10, 8-15, 15-10 in the first match, and 15-8, 15-6, 15-3 in the second match. Newport Harbor (19-0) is undefeated; Corona del Mar (17-2) has lost only to the Sailors this season.
And most of the players have grown up together, playing volleyball in Newport Beach.
"Sometimes it's a disadvantage having already beaten a team twice," said Dan Glenn, Newport Harbor coach. "It's hard to beat a good team three times. But I know our kids won't lose their emotional edge against Corona del Mar. They know them too well."
Many of the Newport Harbor players, including power hitter Jenny Evans, have been coached by Corona del Mar Coach Charlie Brande at the Orange County Volleyball Club.
"He taught them a lot," Glenn said. "He is why we're where we are right now. My kids are solid in the fundamentals."
The Sailors, who didn't expect to be so successful this season, continue to improve. The players who led Newport Harbor to a 15-12, 15-6, 15-9 semifinal victory over Woodbridge are the same ones who have powered the team all season: Evans, who had 15 kills; setter Sienna Curci who had 37 assists, and Anastasia Arnold, who had 4 kills and 3 blocks.
Corona del Mar defeated defending Southern Section champion Mira Costa in three games to advance to the final.
"The fans (at Mira Costa) were very tough," Brande said. "The team played with a lot more inspiration and emotion than they had earlier in the season. They have learned to cope with adversity."
Corona del Mar was hurt late in the season when it lost All-Southern Section setter Rhonda Schnitger, who suffered a dislocated shoulder. Chickie Moiso, who was moved to setter, had 54 assists against Mira Costa. Laurie Sawin (31 kills) and Lori Wooten (18 kills) are the team's power hitters, and Karen Smith has emerged as an excellent blocker.
Both coaches expect the championship, which is being videotaped by Prime Ticket to air Monday night at 7:30, to be exciting.
"It's going to go five sets," Glenn said. "It'll be a war."
Said Brande: "There's going to be rallies that will go on and on. It'll be great from the crowd's standpoint, but not so good for coaches' hearts."
In tonight's Southern Section 4-A final at 6:15 at Marina High, Irvine (15-2) will meet top-seeded Long Beach Wilson (16-1). The second-seeded Vaqueros, who defeated Marymount in five sets in a semifinal match, are playing for the title for the second straight season. Last year, Irvine lost to Gahr High School.