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Double the Net Effect

Girls' Volleyball Stars Wong and Abbott Replace the Collins Twins as a Tall, Talented Tandem Ready to Lead Harvard-Westlake High

September 16, 1997|MIKE BRESNAHAN | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

The Collins twins have taken their basketball act to Stanford, but Harvard-Westlake High still has plenty of tower power.

Michelle Wong and Carissa Abbott aren't twins--not even look-alikes--but they are nearly identical on the court for the girls' volleyball team.

Both are seniors, both are tall (the 6-foot-1 Abbott is an inch taller than Wong) and both can pound the ball.

The similarities don't end there.

Both play middle blocker, although Wong recently has also played swing hitter. And maybe most important, they're both being counted on to tack up another Southern Section banner, which would be the third in as many years at Harvard-Westlake.

"We know we've got everybody gunning for us," Abbott said. "We don't want to disappoint."

The duo are also similar off the court, especially when it comes to summer jobs.

They have spent the last two summers together keeping track of little spikes in school and day camps.

"They're so cute because they get attached to you so quickly," Abbott said. "When you walked in, they'd run up and give you a hug, walk through our legs, use us as a jungle gym."

Wong has been at the varsity level longer than Abbott. She had limited playing time as a sophomore when the Wolverines won sectional and state titles. and last year stepped into a starting role.

She did not disappoint, earning All-Southern Section honors to help the Wolverines win the Southern Section Division III-A title. Still, Wong was overshadowed by Malaika Naulls and Christine Bohle, both of whom are playing at the college level.

Now it is Wong's turn.

"I feel like this is it, this is my year to shine, to lead the team," said Wong, who is a team captain. "It might take 50 meetings, but I want to know what these girls are thinking. I want us to have common goals. It's all about being united."

Abbott is the newer arrival, playing as a back-up last season before being elevated to a starter this year.

"It's a little intimidating that you don't have anybody to hold your hand, to tell you what to do, to give you that extra incentive," Abbott said.

The duo encountered the unexpected last week, losing to Royal for the first time in the short but suddenly competitive four-year rivalry. The Wolverines played without three injured starters, including setter Jamie Beller, who is out for the year with torn knee ligaments.

"When you're thrown with as much as we have in the past two weeks, it's tough," Abbott said. "It's a real test right now. It must be some sort of supernatural thing."

When natural order is restored, however, the Wolverines, ranked No. 2 in the state Division III poll, have a shot at a state championship.

"One of my goals is to make volleyball the ticket, what everybody wants to go see," Wong said. "Just like the way it was two years ago."

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