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GIRLS' VOLLEYBALL / SOUTHERN SECTION CHAMPIONSHIPS
| DIVISION I-A

Royal Stops Marina Comeback

November 22, 1998|MARTIN BECK | TIMES STAFF WRITER

One point from extending the Southern Section Division I-A girls' volleyball final to the limit, Marina lost its way, Simi Valley Royal took advantage and rallied to win the title, 15-7, 6-15, 15-11, 16-14, Saturday at Cypress College.

The second-seeded Vikings led the fourth game, 14-9, but couldn't convert four game points as the top-seeded Highlanders scored seven consecutive points. Marina, which seemed assured of forcing a deciding fifth game, was left in shock, watching Royal accept the trophy the Vikings won last season.

"There was no way we should have lost that game," Marina senior Chanda McLeod said. "Silly errors, miscommunications. We had that game in the bag and we let it slip out of our hands."

McLeod, a senior outside hitter, sang the national anthem with teammate Grace Boyd and led the Vikings' comeback after they lost the first and third games. She had 21 kills, including eight in the final game.

Marina Coach Darrick Lucero said Royal deserved to win because of the fight it showed in the fourth game.

"They are a good team," Lucero said. "They sided out. We served them tough and they passed well. You have to give them credit."

Much of that credit should go to Royal's Courtney Guerra and Teresa Russell. Guerra, a 6-foot outside hitter who has committed to California, had 26 kills and Russell, a 6-1 middle hitter, had eight blocks and a season-high 14 kills.

Royal Coach Bob Ferguson said his team felt confident even after Katie Keating won Marina's 14th point with a stuff block. "It might not have seemed close to anyone else," he said, "but we knew we were going to win that game."

The Highlanders (31-4) rallied in a hurry. After fighting off two game points, they scored three in a row on two Russell kills and an ace by Kellie Lyons to make it 14-12. Then after a Marina side out, Guerra had a kill, Guerra and Russell combined for a point on a block to tie it, 14-14, and Toni-Ann Merendino's ace made it 15-14.

Marina (19-2) got one final chance when Royal was called for a net violation, but the Vikings served into the net and Royal finished them off on its next serve.

Marina hurt itself in the third game, making five hitting or passing errors in an 8-0 Royal run that turned a close game into a near runaway. Marina's late heroics--cutting a 13-4 deficit to 13-11--weren't enough to salvage the game.

The Vikings won the second game convincingly, 15-6, taking advantage of subpar serving by Royal. The Highlanders missed four serves in a row at one point and eight in the game. Marina took leads of 10-1 and 11-2 in the game and won on an ace Sarah Smith.

Royal started strong in the first game, winning seven consecutive points to take an 11-5 lead. Guerra had nine kills in the game.

"Obviously I think we can play a little better," Lucero said. "But they played really well. They looked a lot like we did last year."

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