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GIRLS' VOLLEYBALL

Ciarelli Hoping to Provide a Rocky Homecoming

November 14, 2000|MICHAEL ITAGAKI

It will be a sort of homecoming for Mater Dei Coach Craig Pazanti and one of his assistants, Isaac Owens, when the Monarchs play at Huntington Beach in a Southern Section Division I-A girls' volleyball semifinal tonight.

Pazanti and Owens both played for and served as assistants under Huntington Beach Coach Rocky Ciarelli. Tonight, the longtime Oiler coach, with his wife and co-coach Cammy, will try to find a way to upset his proteges.

"We're David and they're Goliath," Rocky Ciarelli said. "We'll bring some slingshots and see what happens."

Third-seeded Huntington Beach (17-4), unranked in the state, will play Mater Dei (19-2), which is second-seeded in Division I-A and ranked ninth in the state poll.

"[Rocky] is the reason I got into coaching," Pazanti said. "It'll be interesting."

Owens, who coached Huntington Beach last season during the Ciarellis' brief sabbatical, is spending one season at Mater Dei and will take over the Esperanza boys' team this spring. Pazanti is in his second season with the Monarchs.

"I encouraged Craig to take that job,"

Ciarelli said. "I'm happy for him and he's done well. I think any coach who has assistants that want to be head coaches is thrilled when they have success."

HAWKS FLY TO NEW HEIGHTS

Orange County has teams in semifinals tonight in all nine divisions, with Laguna Hills providing the biggest surprise.

San Clemente (Division I-AA), Esperanza (I-AA), Irvine (I-A), La Habra (II-A), Corona del Mar (III-AA), Laguna Beach (IV-AA), Whittier Christian (IV-A), St. Margaret's (V-AA) and Liberty Christian (V-A) were all seeded, but the Hawks were the third-place team from the Sea View League.

"I don't think we've ever been past the second round," Laguna Hills Coach Tess Pautler said.

Kristin Brooks, a 6-foot-1 opposite, is one of only two club players for the Hawks. Non-club players Meaghan Hurst, the setter, and middle blocker Katie Oliver have also helped the Hawks reach their semifinal match at home against second-seeded Santa Barbara.

FIVE ALIVE

Laguna Beach, the second-seeded team in Division IV-AA, reached its semifinal at Thousand Oaks La Reina with two five-game victories.

"It's never a laugher with this group," Laguna Beach Coach Shawn Patchell said.

In the first round, the Artists had to defeat Cerritos Valley Christian, which won three consecutive section titles from 1996-98. Saturday in the quarterfinals, Laguna Beach edged L.A. Notre Dame Academy, the defending state Division IV and Southern Section Division IV-AA champion.

"We lost to them in the [IV-AA section] title match last season," Patchell said. "It was a tough draw." But Patchell is encouraged by his team's moxie: "This year's team isn't as physical as last year's," he said. "But we just won two five-game playoff matches and last year we lost all of the five-game matches we played, so that tells you a little something."

Sarah Salem and Brittany Wood, two 6-2 junior middle blockers, provide the bulk of the firepower for junior setter Leanne Kubisak. Seniors Katie Roark, Dana Hornbeak, Alexandra Harman and Cassie Jones--none are taller than 5-9--have added the trademark Laguna Beach defense and passing to help the Artists move one victory away from another section final.

SHORT-LIVED RETURN

UCLA-bound outside hitter Heather Cullen came back to Newport Harbor's lineup last week after being sidelined for the regular season with a knee injury.

Cullen played exclusively in the back row during the Sailors' three playoff matches. Newport Harbor Coach Dan Glenn said her surgically repaired right knee was judged by doctors to be fit for action, but he didn't risk it by playing her through a full rotation.

Cullen had 11 digs Saturday, but Huntington Beach beat Newport Harbor in four games.

If you have an item or idea for the girls' volleyball report, you can fax us at (714) 966-5663 or e-mail us at: mike.itagaki@latimes.com

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