FULLERTON — The blank stares of the Torrey Pines players were matched only by their empty hearts.
The state girls' volleyball title the Falcons played for Saturday afternoon at Cal State Fullerton was the first of its kind, and a vital piece of San Diego history, as no local team had ever made it this far in a state tournament at the Division I or II level.
Still not far enough as the Falcons see it.
In a display of atypical Torrey Pines volleyball, the Southern California Regional champion Falcons were swept by their Northern California counterpart, powerful Santa Cruz Harbor, 15-8, 15-10, 15-7.
It was Harbor's second trip to a state final--it lost to San Gabriel in 1987--but the first California championship for the Pirates (24-6).
Lack of effort didn't do in Torrey Pines (27-7), but the pounding blocking brigade that was the Pirates' trademark did.
"They blocked a lot," said Torrey Pines senior Michelle Pistone.
Every time Torrey Pines thought it had a kill good enough for a sideout or a point, any number of Harbor players came up with a block to end the Falcon threat.
"We're a ball-control team, they're a blocking team," Torrey Pines Coach Jim Harrah said. "We don't have an opportunity to hit against it that much. We practice against it, but . . ."
It's just not the same. Every successful block seemed to stoke Harbor's fire.
"It shook them up," said outside hitter Elsa Stegemann, who had 13 kills and was one of five Pirates to tally at least three blocks. "It destroyed their confidence and it pumped us up."
Harbor's block party shouldn't have been a surprise to Torrey Pines. Division I Poway, eliminated a week earlier in state play, had beaten the Pirates in a tournament.
"We really had no idea what to expect," Torrey Pines junior Carey May said.
Even if the Falcons had seen Harbor lose to the Titans, it probably wouldn't have helped much. Harbor Coach Jim Reilly said his is a much-improved team, and this is the best they've played all season.
The only game Torrey Pines threatened to take from Harbor was the second, where the score was tied eight times and the lead changed six times.
But at 9-9, Harbor's left-side hitting caught fire and Torrey Pines would muster only one point before it was the Pirates' game.
Serving has been a key Torrey Pines weapon this season, but a dozen service errors plagued the Falcons.
"You live and die by the serve," Harrah said. "When it's going for you, it can tear an opponent apart. Today we served ourselves off the court."
Torrey Pines' Carey May and senior Crystal Vazzana, who had 10 kills apiece, were named to the divisional all-tournament team.