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Small Schools at Their Best in Big Matches

November 21, 2000|MICHAEL ITAGAKI

Orange County's smaller schools enjoyed big success in the Southern Section girls' volleyball championships Saturday at Cypress College.

In the Division IV-A final, Whittier Christian won the first title in school history with a 9-15, 16-14, 15-12, 16-14 win over Sierra Madre Maranatha.

In Division V-AA, St. Margaret's won its second consecutive title, defeating Pasadena Poly, 15-5, 15-0, 15-11. And Orange County has done well in the lower divisions in the past.

In 1985, Southern California Christian won a Division 1-A title. In 1992, when the section switched to enrollment-based divisions, Capistrano Valley Christian won a Division V title. Calvary Chapel won titles in 1993 (Division V), '94 (IV) and '99 (IV-AA).

Whittier Christian was playing in its first section final Saturday.

"We were nervous," Coach Lisa Bloom said. "We never thought we'd be in the championships and when we got on the court, I think we froze in that first game. Then the kids just thought, 'It's now or never.'

"Maranatha ended up winning the [Olympic] league title and we didn't want them to win both."

The teams split two league matches, but the Heralds won the most important rematch, with senior setter Amy Fisher, Melissa Carlisle and Joelle Sagehorn helping them win the section championship.

The title for St. Margaret's was a little more expected, considering the Tartans were top-seeded and the defending Division V-AA champions.

"Even people on campus are telling me, 'Oh yeah? Well, you guys just have a great team, you won last year,' " St. Margaret's Coach Susie Maga said. "But this is a totally different team. We essentially had one returning starter."

But that one starter was Monique Kettler, a 6-foot senior who has signed with Portland.


The most intriguing first-round matchup in the state tournament tonight is in Division I when Mater Dei plays at top-seeded Chula Vista Bonita Vista, the San Diego Section champion.

Mater Dei led two games to none and 8-2 in the third game against Bonita Vista in the Del Mar Torrey Pines tournament final Oct. 14, but the Barons, behind Hawaii-bound Jennifer Saleaumua, stormed back to win the final three games.

Saleaumua, a 5-10 outside hitter, is the niece of former Arizona State and NFL defensive lineman Dan Saleaumua.

Mater Dei may not be at 100% for tonight's match. Kill leader Breegan Mulligan has a bruised thumb she suffered in the Division I-A final loss to Manhattan Beach Mira Costa and she had only seven kills in that match. Key reserves Tiffany Brooks and Shannon Hopkins have the flu and did not practice Monday.

Corona del Mar also will travel to San Diego to play University of San Diego High. Last season, the Sea Kings beat USDHS and then North Hollywood Harvard-Westlake to reach the state semifinals.

Whittier Christian got a tough draw and will host second-seeded L.A. Marymount tonight at 7 at the L.A. College of Chiropractic. Marymount lost to Thousand Oaks La Reina in five games in the Southern Section Division IV-AA final.


For the first time, the state tournament will feature rally scoring, in the fifth game only. Rally scoring awards a point on each play. There are no side outs.

The rule was used by some tournaments this season, including the Santa Barbara Tournament of Champions. In that final, Mira Costa defeated San Jose Archbishop Mitty, 26-24, in the rally-scored fifth game.

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