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VALLEY/VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS | HIGH SCHOOL VOLLEYBALL
NOTEBOOK

Threesome Finds Right Chemistry for 13-0 Monroe

April 29, 1999|MIKE BRESNAHAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

At Monroe High, team chemistry is more than a cliche.

They may not look like particles, but the most important players on the boys' volleyball team--Jose Sanchez, James Taruc and Razell Loveria--like to call themselves "The Nucleus."

Loveria, the Vikings' best passer, is referred to as "The Neutron," while Taruc, the setter, is "The Proton" and Sanchez, the middle blocker, is "The Electron."

"You need a pass, a set and a kill," said the 6-foot-5 Sanchez, attempting to explain the chemical terminology.

Monroe (13-0, 10-0 in Valley Pac-8 Conference play), ranked No. 4 in the region by The Times, has been explosive this season.

With the City Section playoff seeding meeting tonight, the Vikings, who won the Valley Pac-8 championship and posted important nonconference victories over Taft and Venice, is expected to earn the No. 1 spot in the City Championship playoffs.

Monroe won the lower-level 3-A Division title last year, an experience that will ease their transition to the upper level.

"That's what makes our team pretty good--the experience and maturity we have coming back from last year," Sanchez said. "I think we're up for it."

City Section playoffs begin Tuesday.

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Taft (11-1) is expected to be seeded No. 2 behind Monroe in the playoffs, which would give Valley teams the top two upper-division seedings for the first time.

Granada Hills (10-3) and Chatsworth (8-4) are also expected to earn top-10 spots in the 16-team City Championship bracket. Poly (11-2) and Grant (9-2) have outside chances at top-10 seedings.

With University, a traditional power, in its second consecutive rebuilding season and defending champion Palisades battling inconsistency, Valley teams appear to have caught up to the rest of the City Section.

"I think we may have passed them," Chatsworth Coach Bud Dow said. "I honestly believe the strength in the City is in the Valley right now."

Said Venice Coach Allen Hunt: "This year, there are some good teams--a lot of good teams--in the Valley. The last couple of years, there's been a lot of parity [among City teams]. The Valley's equally in there."

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Taft cound end up with a high seeding, but the Toreadors are hurting.

Middle blocker Andy Ryoo could miss the playoffs after spraining an ankle while jumping a fence to play pick-up basketball on Saturday.

"It looks like Fred Flintstone," Taft Coach Doug Magorien said of Ryoo's ankle. "His toes are swollen, his ankle is swollen. I don't know if he'll play for two weeks."

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With a four-game victory at Quartz Hill two weeks ago, Highland showed it has its best team since the days of Ryan Millar and Mac Wilson, starting middle blockers for Brigham Young University.

But the Bulldogs will have to overcome injuries to earn a victory in the rematch Friday at Highland.

Rick Haight (thumb injury), Adam Green (shoulder) and Jody Shadrick (flu) all missed practice on Tuesday.

"We're definitely not the healthiest team in the world right now," Highland Coach Mike Bird said. "I just hope we can hang in there for another week or so."

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