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VALLEY / VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS | HIGH SCHOOL VOLLEYBALL

Sylmar and Chatsworth Hold Court in City Volleyball Final

November 17, 2000|MIKE BRESNAHAN

Palisades High is in the past. Poly has been eliminated. San Pedro and Fremont will be only spectators.

As some coaches predicted earlier this season, Sylmar and Chatsworth are in the City Championship girls' volleyball final.

There is another accurate forecast that can be made before the match tonight at Occidental College--a team from the Valley will win the upper-division City title for only the second time since the section began holding girls' playoffs in 1973.

Chatsworth won in 1994.

In September, Sylmar defeated the No. 2-seeded Chancellors (15-1) in under an hour, 15-1, 15-6, 15-1.

"It was so fast, I didn't even realize we were playing bad," said middle blocker Linda Wang, who played outside hitter against Sylmar. "Little mistakes kept adding up and adding up."

It shouldn't be so one-sided this time because Wang, a 6-foot-2 junior, has returned to her normal position and the Chancellors have gone 13-0 since then.

"They're believing in themselves," said Chatsworth Coach Bud Dow, who was impressed by his team's sweep of Poly in the semifinals, a performance highlighted by Wang's 22 kills and 23 digs.

"If we play that way [tonight], it's going to be a heck of a match. It's not going to be a blowout."

Top-seeded Sylmar (16-0) has won two lower-division City championships, but lost in the upper-division final last year to Palisades.

Opposite hitter Stephanie Cisneros delivered 15 kills in the early-season match against Chatsworth.

If she is on target again, Sylmar, which has not lost a game in match play this season, could deliver a championship.

*

It's almost inevitable.

Once again, longtime rivals Harvard-Westlake and Bishop Montgomery are meeting in the playoffs.

They aren't as evenly matched this time--Harvard-Westlake drilled the Knights in a nonleague match, 15-5, 15-4, 15-2--but regular-season records will be meaningless when they play tonight for the Southern Section Division III-AA championship at Cypress College.

The teams have almost taken turns defeating each other en route to section or state titles. Harvard-Westlake won the state Division III title in 1995. Bishop Montgomery won it in 1996 and '98.

"There have been many [battles]," Harvard-Westlake Coach Jess Quiroz said. "It's not really a grudge match, but we've always been competitive. It's good to see them there."

Middle blocker Courtney Schultz (13 kills) and outside hitter Karalyn Kuchenbecker (eight kills) provided problems for Bishop Montgomery (18-11) when the teams met in October at Harvard-Westlake.

Top-seeded Harvard-Westlake (21-2) is seeking its fourth section championship in six years.

*

Now that the quarterfinal jinx has been smashed, La Reina will try to end another drought by winning its first Southern Section title in volleyball.

The all-girls' school in Thousand Oaks lost in the quarterfinals five of the previous six seasons before sweeping Paraclete last week.

The Regents followed with a four-game victory over Laguna Beach before nearly 1,000 on Tuesday at La Reina. Referees stopped the match three times because fans in the packed gym encroached on the court.

The No. 3-seeded Regents (25-0) will try to make school history against top-seeded Marymount (24-3) tonight at Cypress College.

"If we can go up another level, it should be a fun Friday," Coach Don Hyatt said.

Middle blocker Jennifer Ryan, who has committed to Santa Clara, has been unstoppable in the playoffs, delivering 26 kills in 37 attempts with only two hitting errors against Laguna Beach.

"It was probably the best match I've seen her play," Hyatt said. "Some people said it was the best she'd played ever, including club.

"When she had to, she buried it."

*

Poly Coach Jimmy Ikeda, who turned the Parrots into perennial contenders for the City title, has resigned and will move to San Francisco next month.

Ikeda, who has coached at Poly for 12 years, finished the season after his wife, Elaine, took an administrative position with San Francisco State in September.

"I told the kids I'd be here no matter what," Ikeda said.

Poly (14-2) lost to Chatsworth in the City Championship semifinals Tuesday. Ikeda guided the Parrots to a lower-division City title in 1997 and made them instant contenders when they moved to the upper division.

"It went quickly," Ikeda said of his time at Poly. "I've always had great kids. I've never had any problems."

*

Move over, big brother.

It's your little sister's time to shine.

Kennedy middle blocker Jevay Grooms has helped lead the No. 2-seeded Golden Cougars (10-6) into the City Invitational final against Carson tonight at Occidental College.

Grooms, whose brother, Dax, is a former basketball and volleyball star at Kennedy, had 21 kills and only four hitting errors in 34 attempts during a semifinal victory over Monroe on Tuesday.

Grooms, a junior, and the rest of the Golden Cougars should be wary of No. 12-seeded Carson. The Colts have defeated higher-seeded opponents in all three playoff matches.

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