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University Is Floored by Harvard-Westlake

Girls' volleyball: Wolverines advance to state championship match with 15-8, 15-3, 15-6 victory.


NORTH HOLLYWOOD — It's a good thing the Harvard-Westlake High girls' volleyball team won't have to play in its own gym again this season.

Maintenance crews will need all winter to repair dents in the floor courtesy of Courtney Schultz, Karalyn Kuchenbecker and company.

Looking like a well-oiled machine, the Wolverines made Tuesday night's Southern California Division III regional championship match look like just another routine victory, dispatching second-seeded San Diego University, 15-8, 15-3, 15-6, to advance to Saturday's state final against the Northern California champion at Cypress College.

The top-seeded Wolverines (26-2) have defeated each of their three playoff opponents with great speed and efficiency. The question is no longer whether Harvard-Westlake will win its second state championship, but whether it will lose a game in the process.

"They were a better team than the ones we played before," said Schultz, who had 18 kills. "We just know how to raise our level when we need to. This was a total team effort."

Kuchenbecker had 11 kills and Anna Nesser added eight for Harvard-Westlake, which needed just longer than an hour to eliminate the two-time San Diego Section champions.

"We're clicking on all cylinders right now," Coach Jess Quiroz of Harvard-Westlake said. "It's not just Courtney and Karalyn--everyone's contributing. We have four capable hitters on the court at all times."

The Dons (38-4) appeared to be one of the most formidable teams Harvard-Westlake played. University beat Bishop Montgomery in four games in the second round of the state tournament--the same number the Wolverines needed to do the same in the Southern Section Division III-AA final.

"We knew about their one really strong hitter, and she was amazing," Schultz said. "But all things considered, we did a pretty good job on her."

Kristina Hoban, an All-San Diego Section selection, had 16 kills for University. Tina Mesquita had 27 assists.

"We didn't know what to expect, but they run their middles strong and that's our weakest spot," University Coach Kelly Drobeck said. "I think they are a decent team, we just didn't play our best game."

The Wolverines fell behind, 4-1, in the first game before making a 12-0 run.

Harvard-Westlake trailed, 3-0, in game two but didn't lose another point.

Game three was tied, 4-4, until Schultz hit back-to-back kills to ignite an 11-2 run.

Harvard-Westlake won the 1995 Division III state title.

"I just wish we were playing in a higher division, because we've played some Division I in tournaments, and we feel we can play with anyone," Quiroz said.

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