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PREP VOLLEYBALL ROUNDUP : Trailing, 2-0, La Quinta Rallies


Dino Dukovic's block at match point lifted La Quinta to a five-game Garden Grove League boys' volleyball victory over Garden Grove, but no one was more surprised than Aztec Coach Larry James.

"Really, we're not a very good blocking team," James said, "and we get the winner on a block? There's some irony. I'm as shocked as anyone about the outcome."

La Quinta rallied to post a 7-15, 8-15, 15-13, 15-12, 15-10 victory over Garden Grove Wednesday at Garden Grove, moving the Aztecs (6-1, 3-0 in league) into sole possession of first place. Garden Grove (5-2, 2-1), the preseason favorite to win the league, is tied for second with Rancho Alamitos.

Scott Ogilvie, a 6-foot-3 sophomore, had 14 kills to lead La Quinta. Dukovic, a 6-foot-7 junior, and Trung Khuu added 13 kills each for La Quinta's balanced attack. But it was the defense that made the difference.

Although Garden Grove's Mike Blackner, a returning first-team all-league outside hitter, had 23 of his 27 kills in the last three games, La Quinta began to dig more balls and its passing improved.

"I think it was a matter of pride for the kids," James said. "Nobody wants to get swept. They had us on the ropes. But that shows you, in volleyball, you can't relax. You can always have big swings in momentum."

Garden Grove had all of the momentum early, giving up only 15 points in the first two games combined.

Ricky Brannon, who had 17 kills and four blocks, had four kills in Game 1 helping the Argonauts win, 15-7. In Game 2, Tony Nguyen, who had 15 kills, spiked from the left side to give Garden Grove a 15-8 victory and it looked like the rout was on.

"In the first two games we were cruising," Garden Grove Coach Lance Aoki said. "Then La Quinta turned it on. They put up a big block and we started to have a total breakdown. We were playing like a bunch of individuals."

Blackner, the tallest Garden Grove player at 6-1, and the rest of the Argonauts had trouble contending with Dukovic and Ogilvie in the last three games. Although Garden Grove's first-year setter Thien Nguyen had 62 assists, his inexperience showed down the stretch, Aoki said.

Dukovic and Ogilvie had three blocks each in the final three games giving the defense an immediate lift. With Khuu, Quan Lu and Dave Rosenthal diving on the floor to dig balls, setter Hau Vo provided the leadership.

Vo had 26 assists in the final three games and he helped to inspire Dukovic following a La Quinta timeout with the Aztecs leading, 14-10.

"Last year, Quan was our setter," James said. "We just put Hau in there because he's little more emotional."

Vo's pep talk with Dukovic worked. Following the time out, Dukovic spiked from the left side for a side out. Then, Dukovic blocked Blackner, one-on-one, for match point.

In other Garden Grove League matches:

Rancho Alamitos 3, Los Amigos 1--Ben Lam had 10 kills for Rancho Alamitos (2-1 in league) which won, 15-12, 14-16, 16-14, 16-14. Los Amigos is 1-2 in league.

In nonleague matches:

Irvine 3, Edison 1--Mark Ramirez had 17 kills, Luke Carlson 11 and Jeff Miller 10 for Irvine (4-1) which won, 15-1, 15-2, 8-15, 15-7.

Ocean View 3, Marina 2--Cam Carr had 35 kills for Ocean View (2-4) which won, 6-15, 15-13, 15-8, 8-15, 15-9. The Vikings are 3-3.

Saddleback 3, Bolsa Grande 2--Jevon Borja had seven kills for Saddleback (3-4), which won, 15-5, 10-15, 15-12, 10-15, 15-5. Mike Davis had eight kills for Bolsa Grande (6-3).

Tustin 3, Foothill 0--Donnie Rafter had 20 kills and Curtis Jackson added 19 for Tustin (2-1), which won, 15-9, 15-10, 15-6. Greg Logan had 55 assists for the Tillers.

Trabuco Hills 3, Laguna Hills 1--Setter Kevin Kelly set a school-record with 76 assists and Steve Carter had 20 kills for Trabuco Hills (4-0), which won, 18-16, 12-15, 15-4, 15-12.

Valencia 3, Canyon 0--Kevin Jackley had six kills for visiting Valencia (4-4), which won, 15-7, 15-10, 15-7.

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