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/ Today's Focus: High School Volleyball

Gallardo Gives Poly Girls a Work Ethic

November 06, 1998|MIKE BRESNAHAN

Gaby Gallardo is nowhere near a volleyball court, yet she is exhausted.

Her shift as a nighttime data-entry worker at an eyeglass-manufacturing company has just ended and, with her first-period class at Poly High in less than five hours, Gallardo will go home, wrap her weary legs in baby oil and bandages and sleep for about the length of time it takes the Parrots to sweep an opponent.

Being an outside hitter and setter at Poly is the easiest part of the day for Gallardo, who until recently worked two jobs--waiting tables on weekends and data entry on weeknights--to help alleviate financial pressures on her family.

"A majority of my check would go to my parents," said Gallardo, a senior. "Even if it wasn't a lot, they'd appreciate it. And it feels good to know that I'm helping them."

The eldest of four sisters, Gallardo, whose mother and father work in electronics-assembly factories, couldn't fathom not helping even though it took a toll.

"All my friends saw me so tired all the time," said Gallardo. "They'd be like, 'Are you OK?'

"I couldn't get up for first period [at school]. Or, if I did, I'd sleep through it. But I had to help out. I'm just that type of person."

With the City Section playoffs beginning Monday, Gallardo has stopped working for the next month.

The 5-foot-9 Gallardo has a powerful arm swing for hitting and soft hands for setting, a unique combination.

The City Section 3-A Division co-player of the year last season, Gallardo has helped keep Poly (12-1) alive for a second consecutive championship.

Gallardo maintains her sense of humor. And individuality.

"I'm always the one that wants to do something a little different than everybody else," Gallardo

said. "I just want to be my own person."

*

In the next three weeks, Patti Leiblie could have a new child in one arm and a new trophy in the other.

Leiblie, the coach at Granada Hills, is 8 1/2 months pregnant and is due to have a daughter on Nov. 18. The City Section championship is Nov. 20.

The Highlanders begin City Section playoffs on Monday.

"I have parents ready to whisk me away from the volleyball game if anything happens," Leiblie said. "But I'm hoping she comes either by the due date or a little bit later, even though I'm ready now."

The Granada Hills players have pitched in, too.

"If I drop something, they're there to help me pick it up," Leiblie said. "And if I drop down, they'd help me up."

The City championship is far from a guarantee for the Highlanders, who were co-champions in the Northwest Valley Conference. But it would be an appropriate gift for Leiblie.

"It would cap off a great year," she said.

*

With seven consecutive league titles, La Reina has enjoyed plenty of success.

But this is a first.

The Regents (18-0) became the first volleyball team in school history to sport an unblemished regular-season record.

"They wanted to do something that nobody else had done because we graduated so many seniors [last year]," La Reina Coach Don Hyatt said. "Nobody said they could do it."

They almost did it two years ago, but lost to Tri-Valley League foe Carpinteria in five games in the regular-season finale.

This season had a different ending, and the next two years could bring more of the same--the Regents' best players, Jennifer Ryan and Ashlie Hain, are sophomores.

*

Royal made an impressive mark at the Santa Barbara tournament last weekend.

The Highlanders, seeded 11th, made it to the semifinals before losing to Newport Harbor, 15-10, 17-15, 11-15, 15-10, despite 38 kills by Courtney Guerra.

Royal defeated Torrey Pines, top-ranked in the San Diego Section, in the third-place match, 13-15, 15-8, 13-15, 15-7, 15-12.

"I've never been at matches like those," Coach Bob Ferguson of Royal said. "They seemed to take forever."

Guerra was an all-tournament selection, finishing with 116 kills, only 12 hitting errors and a sparkling .580 hitting percentage in four matches.

*

Pat Rungratanasunthorn is not only an outside hitter at Taft, she's a typographical terror, too.

"We call her Pat Alphabet," Coach Doug Magorien of Taft said. "She's got just about every letter in there."

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

The Top 10

Rankings of girls' volleyball teams from the region

*--*

RK LW School (League) 1 2 Royal (Marmonte) 2 1 Harvard-Westlake (Mission) 3 3 Calabasas (Frontier) 4 4 Westlake (Marmonte) 5 5 La Reina (Tri-Valley) 6 6 Buena (Channel) 7 7 Village Christian (Alpha) 8 NR Highland (Golden) 9 10 Poly (Valley Pac-8) 10 8 Notre Dame (Mission)

*--*

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