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Harvard-Westlake Takes Anger Out on Yosemite

High school volleyball: Wolverines felt disparaged by vanquished coach, so they proved point in playoff sweep.


NORTH HOLLYWOOD — Generally speaking, it's not a good idea to upset Harvard-Westlake High.

Already one of the top volleyball teams in the state, the Wolverines played with a volleyball-sized chip on their shoulders Saturday night because of an inflammatory newspaper quote from the coach of their previous playoff opponent.

The Wolverines didn't play like a top-seeded team or hit very hard, the coach declared.

That was bulletin board material.

Harvard-Westlake played like a top-seeded team--a hard-hitting one, at that--in a 15-6, 15-7, 15-6, victory over Oakhurst Yosemite in a Southern Regional semifinal of the state Division III playoffs.

Karalyn Kuchenbecker delivered 18 kills and Courtney Schultz had 15 for Harvard-Westlake (25-2), which was still simmering from the Tuesday night observations of the Tollhouse Sierra coach.

"I couldn't believe it," said Schultz, who gave a Sierra player a mild concussion with one of her kills on Tuesday. "How much harder could I have hit?"

The Wolverines, two victories away from their second state volleyball title in school history, blasted the ball from the beginning against Yosemite.

Kuchenbecker drilled seven kills in the first game and Schultz had six as Harvard-Westlake jumped out to a 9-1 lead.

The final two games were much of the same, with Terbrie Taylor (seven kills) and Anna Nesser (six kills) also getting in the thick of things for Harvard-Westlake, which took an 8-1 lead in the second game and a 7-1 lead in the third.

Yosemite (20-9) did not have a player with more than six kills and simply could not match the Harvard-Westlake attack.

"I can honestly say they hit pretty hard," Yosemite Coach Michele Chenowith said. "They cranked on the ball. We had a hard time blocking it and digging it."

The Wolverines weren't quite as efficient in a three-game quarterfinal victory over Sierra. They had changed their pass-receive scheme before the match, leading to confusion among the players.

The normal passing scheme was back in place Saturday.

"The experiment's over," Harvard-Westlake Coach Jess Quiroz said. "They weren't too happy with it. But we worked our way through it."

The Wolverines will try to work similar magic in a Southern Regional championship Tuesday against University of San Diego High at Harvard-Westlake.

University defeated Bishop Montgomery, 15-13, 10-15, 15-7, 15-13, preventing the Wolverines from playing their longtime nemesis, the Knights, for the third time this season.

Just the same, Harvard-Westlake, which won a state title in 1995, seems to be ready for any opponent.

Especially when provided with a rival coach's nudge.

"I think our girls wanted to hit the ball a little tonight," said a smiling Quiroz.



* Chowchilla High is no match for La Reina, which sweeps to victory. D20

* Moorpark College is heading to the state tournament in Stockton. D20

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