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Sea View League Refugees Are Dominating the Playoffs

May 23, 2000|MIKE ITAGAKI

Break up the Sea View League. Wait, someone already did that.

The six teams that played in the Sea View League last season made it through to last week's Southern Section quarterfinals. The four that survived will play in Wednesday's 7 p.m. semifinals: Newport Harbor, Corona del Mar, Santa Margarita and Woodbridge. The two that lost--El Toro and Irvine--did so in matches against former Sea View rivals.

With league realignment, Santa Margarita (Serra), Corona del Mar (Pacific Coast) and El Toro (South Coast) were moved out of the Sea View and each won a league title this season. Newport Harbor, Irvine and Woodbridge stayed in the Sea View and earned the league's three automatic playoff berths.

"We might not have even made the playoffs this season in the old league," Newport Harbor Coach Dan Glenn said. "We would have been scrapping to get in the playoffs. But here we are in the semifinals."

Unseeded Newport Harbor, the defending Sea View champ, defeated top-seeded Marina Friday, in five games, to advance to the Division I semifinals to play Manhattan Beach Mira Costa Wednesday at Redondo Union High. Billy Clayton, who has signed with Stanford, had 43 kills against Marina.

Stanford-bound setter Kevin Hansen and outside hitter Greg Stampley have helped third-seeded Corona del Mar win three playoff matches without losing a game.

Corona del Mar advanced to this season's Division I semifinals with a convincing three-game victory over El Toro, which is led by UC Irvine-bound seniors Jimmy Pelzel and Kyle Martin.

Santa Margarita was unseeded in Division I but defeated former Sea View rival Irvine, in five games, to reach the semifinals to play Corona del Mar.

With the emergence of junior Damien Scott as a go-to player, the recovery of junior Blake Robinson from a pectoral injury, and key contributions from setter Vince Prietto, Reid Bradshaw, John Costigan and Dustin Creager, the Eagles have moved to within one victory of the final.

"We started 1-3 but things are starting to come together for this group," Santa Margarita Coach Eddie Rapp said.

Last season, Santa Margarita won the Orange County Championships but missed the playoffs.

Irvine also missed the playoffs last season, but the Vaqueros were seeded second for this season's Division I playoffs. Irvine tied Newport Harbor for the Sea View title and finished 15-2, with the only other loss to Newport Harbor.

"That was the best team we played all season," Irvine Coach Mark Mednick said after Friday's loss. "They deserve it."

Last season, Woodbridge didn't qualify for the playoffs and the Warriors got into the postseason this year by finishing third in the Sea View behind Irvine and Newport Harbor.

But the Warriors are making the most of their playoff appearance. With Princeton-bound setter Jason Liljestrom leading the way, they have advanced to the Division II semifinals and will face third-seeded Mater Dei Wednesday at Santa Margarita High.


Mater Dei is peaking at the right time, and one reason is the Monarchs' health.

Because of injuries, opposite Brian Costanzo and setter Mike Gazzano were forced to carry the load early for the Monarchs. But Mater Dei is at full strength now, and Brandt Wicke is a prime example.

Wicke is showing signs that he's fully recovered from an early-season ankle injury, giving Mater Dei some needed punch in the middle. He had 15 kills and a .650 hitting percentage in a three-game victory over Goleta Dos Pueblos Friday. Middle blocker Felix Inga hit .750.

"We hit .490 as a team in that match," Mater Dei Coach Tom Costanzo said. "We're on top of our game right now."

In Division III, fourth-seeded Whittier Christian is the lone survivor from the county. Brigham Young-bound outside hitter Tim Layton and the Heralds will play top-seeded Santa Ynez, which has won four of the last five Division III titles, in Wednesday's semifinal at Solvang Elementary.


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