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VALLEY / VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS

Summer Vacation Was Gym Dandy for Schultz

Middle blocker at Harvard-Westlake spent time on court, from Michigan to the Dominican Republic.

August 12, 2000|MIKE BRESNAHAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

She found herself shivering in Michigan and sweating in the Dominican Republic.

The fluctuations in the weather were in stark contrast to Courtney Schultz's steady, methodical progress this summer.

Already a standout player for the Harvard-Westlake High girls' volleyball team, Schultz might have elevated herself into the national elite with her hectic yet productive schedule the last six weeks.

Schultz, who will be a junior, recently returned from the Dominican Republic, where she helped lead the U.S. Youth National team to a second-place finish in a world championship qualifying tournament.

Schultz, who plays middle blocker at Harvard-Westlake, was stellar as an outside hitter, adapting well to the different demands of the position. She passed with precision and had little trouble picking up the intricacies of hitting from the outside instead of the middle.

The U.S. lost to Puerto Rico but qualified for the world championships next year.

"Just to be able to play while wearing that USA jersey, against girls who wore other jerseys representing their countries, I've never played anything like it," Schultz said.

Schultz tried out for the team during a week-long session at Northern Michigan University in Marquette.

It wasn't Southern California weather--"It rained a lot," she said--but Schultz was willing to stay longer when she was selected to the 18-player roster. Once the team was announced, she stayed another week preparing for the world championship qualifier tournament.

Before traveling abroad, Schultz played on the Sports Shack club team that placed second in the 18-and-under division of the UC Davis tournament. She played outside hitter on Sports Shack, which lost to Orange County Nike in the championship match on June 30.

Coach Tim Jensen of Sports Shack was impressed by Schultz's passing skills, extraordinary for a 6-foot-1 player accustomed to playing the more static middle blocker position.

"The kid is an exceptional volleyball talent . . . a very fast learner and fearless," Jensen said.

"She's been playing against seniors the entire [summer] and has been absolutely dominating. The kid is a legitimate Division I top recruit."

Her Sports Shack teammates included Ashlie Hain and Jennifer Ryan of La Reina, Allison Gorny of Littlerock, and Anna Neser and Leslie Meller of Harvard-Westlake.

The team had only one senior, Meller, and should be a favorite next year in one of the nation's largest volleyball tournaments. Approximately 300 teams competed in the 18-and-under division this year.

"It's a very, very big deal in volleyball," Jensen said.

"It's the biggest deal out there . . . that and the Junior Olympics."

Schultz, The Times' regional girls' volleyball player of the year last season at Harvard-Westlake, has one more stop in her frequent-flier summer.

Harvard-Westlake, which began practice this week, competes in a preseason tournament in Hawaii next week.

Schultz will be there, back at middle blocker.

"I haven't had an off-season this year, only a week here and there," she said.

"But I love it. No complaints."

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