Advertisement

It's Schutz's Turn to Step Into Spotlight : Volleyball: Senior is big reason Newport Harbor has advanced to quarterfinals of playoffs.

November 14, 1994|MICHAEL ITAGAKI | TIMES STAFF WRITER

NEWPORT BEACH — Middle blocker Melissa Schutz is regarded as one of the county's top players, but she had only 11 kills Thursday in Newport Harbor's four-game playoff victory over Capistrano Valley.

"We didn't get her the ball enough," Newport Harbor Coach Dan Glenn said.

What a nice problem to have.

Although the Sailors weren't efficient enough for their coach, outside hitter Misty May carried the load with 27 kills, helping them advance to Tuesday's quarterfinals. The Sailors play host to Agoura.

Although May, The Times 1993 player of the year, garners most of the attention, Schutz has been just as instrumental to the Sailors' climb to prominence.

Newport Harbor is the No. 1 ranked team in the State and top-seeded team in the Southern Section Division I girls' volleyball playoffs.

The Sailors are a well-rounded team, but Schutz is one of the centerpieces.

"There's got to be a reason why she was the No. 1 choice of the schools who were recruiting her," said Charlie Brande, Orange County Club volleyball coach.

Although she is only 6 feet, small by Division I college volleyball standards, Schutz's quickness and athletic ability set her apart. Duke and UCLA were among the schools that recruited her, but she chose Colorado.

Her Orange County Club volleyball teammate, Calvary Chapel's Courtney Owens, has orally committed to Colorado, and The Times 1992 player of the year, Laguna Beach's Rachel Wacholder, also plays for the Buffaloes.

Glenn is among many coaches who feel Colorado is fortunate to have landed Schutz.

"Melissa is probably the best middle attacker I've had," said Glenn, who has coached at Newport Harbor for nine seasons. "But she's just scratching the surface. She's still figuring out the game.

"She'll be one of the smaller middles in college, but she's very quick on transition. The game's players are getting bigger, but you can't teach quickness and that's what wins."

The only time the Sailors haven't won this season was a Nov. 4 match against San Jose Archbishop Mitty.

In the second round of the Santa Barbara tournament, the Sailors played without setter Janette Hecker and lost in four games.

"We all needed to step up in that match, but there were some who didn't," Schutz said. "Hopefully we'll learn from it."

The loss knocked the Sailors out of the top spot in a national high school volleyball poll--The Mizuno Top 25--published by USA Today. Newport Harbor is currently second and Lincoln (Neb.) East is No. 1.

"I don't put much stock in a poll," Glenn said. "That's just some opinions. Now a CIF title, that's won on the court."

Schutz has experienced a championship season, helping Newport Harbor win the State Division III title in 1992 as a sophomore. Last season, the Sailors lost in the State Division I and section finals to Corona del Mar, but now they're ready to take the next step.

"I know we have the talent to do it, we just have to put it all together," Schutz said. "It's all emotional and mental now."

Those are things that didn't come easily to Schutz when she arrived at Newport Harbor.

As freshmen, Schutz and May played significant roles on a senior-dominated team that featured all-county players Tara Kroesch and Maureen McLaren. It was a tough adjustment.

"Once that season, Melissa came back to the huddle crying," Glenn said. "I think Mo got in her face. Mo was so competitive, she tried to get that across to Melissa."

Something clicked because Schutz has followed McLaren's footsteps. McLaren, now playing volleyball for Stanford, also was a standout basketball player and swimmer at Newport Harbor.

Schutz figures to earn her 12th varsity letter before she graduates. After she finishes volleyball season, she will play basketball then swim the freestyle for the Sailors' swim team.

"It's very rare for someone to even attempt to do what she does," Brande said. "The time demands with club practices, your high school practices, and keeping up with your studies, and to be that strong to succeed in all of them . . .

"And she epitomizes what a team player is all about. Whenever they needed her, Melissa has always stepped it up."

Said Schutz: "I don't do this for the recognition, I'm just doing what I love to do. While the accomplishments are nice, what you remember are the friendships.

"My best friends are on this team, so it's a little different than basketball or swimming. This team is as special as it gets."

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|