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VALLEY / VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS

Royal Response Takes Care of Newbury Park

Volleyball: Highlanders run league winning streak to 60 matches with 15-4, 15-6, 15-3 victory over Panthers.

March 28, 1998|LAUREN PETERSON | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

NEWBURY PARK — The streak stops here?

That was the question facing the Royal High boys' volleyball team before its match Friday night at Newbury Park.

For an answer, the Highlanders rolled to a 15-4, 15-6, 15-3 victory over the Panthers, who were expected to be the biggest challenger to Royal's mastery of the Marmonte League.

Newbury Park, however, was beaten by Royal's better balance and sense of history.

The Highlanders (6-0, 5-0 in league play) easily extended their league winning streak to 60 matches, dating to the 1994 season.

"It's not like we own it, but we have a feeling that we have to win," Royal outside hitter David Clark said.

"We don't want to be the team that ends that streak after it took all these years to build up. I'd be sorry."

The only ones making apologies for their play Friday were the Panthers.

"I don't think we played to even half of our potential," said Newbury Park senior outside hitter Robert Congelliere, bound for BYU on a volleyball scholarship.

"I don't think we came out ready to play at all."

Congelliere had six kills and three blocks, but sat out nearly all of the third game as Newbury Park Coach Craig Witmer brought in reserves in an attempt to stem Royal's roll.

Like nearly everything else the Panthers tried, the approach didn't work. Royal's reserves jumped out to an 8-0 lead.

Newbury Park (5-2, 5-1) got nine kills from Collin McKeown and six from Sterling Hannemann.

But the Panthers were mostly unable to dig Royal's hitters, and they had trouble passing and returning serves.

Royal had no such difficulties.

Middle hitters Cam Dickson (six kills, three blocks, three aces) and Garrett Herzer (five kills and four blocks) stuffed the Panthers repeatedly, opening things up for 6-foot-7 senior opposite hitter Steve Russell (nine kills) and Clark (four kills).

"It seemed like we really connected out there tonight," Clark said. "We've been looking forward to this all week, and everything was working for us."

Said Royal Coach Bob Ferguson: "We're so deep. I didn't think it would be this extreme, but I knew we had a strong team and they came in really fired up.

"There was that certain look where you go, 'We're ready.' "

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