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Private-School Prohibition Puzzles Coaches

October 03, 2000|MICHAEL ITAGAKI

Volleyball coaches around the county sympathize with the recent predicament facing their brethren at Aliso Niguel, Capistrano Valley, Dana Hills and San Clemente High Schools.

The Capistrano Unified School District has prohibited its schools from scheduling private schools in nonleague contests.

"We support the idea of playing schools that are like our schools," said Rich Johnson, the executive director of secondary operational services for the district.

So Mater Dei, ranked second in the county, couldn't even schedule a nonleague match with No. 1 San Clemente this season. The teams played each other last season in a nonleague match.

"I think this hurts volleyball," Mater Dei Coach Craig Pazanti said. "And down in South County, I think it does an injustice to those teams there because lately, [Mater Dei] and Santa Margarita have been pretty strong programs. You always want to play the best."

Most of the top programs in volleyball don't duck the best competition but seek it out.

Newport Harbor, winner of three consecutive Southern Section Division I-AA championships and the two-time defending State Division I champion, lost to Mater Dei last week and plays at Santa Margarita Friday.

Dana Hills scheduled this season's opener against Mater Dei but Dolphin Coach Mark Rivadeneyra was asked to cancel the match.

But because Mater Dei signed a two-year contract to play the Dolphins, the match was allowed, and the Monarchs won. Last season, Dana Hills played Santa Margarita too.

The directive has placed district coaches in an awkward position, but they're toeing the line.

"A long time ago we played Mater Dei," Capistrano Valley Coach John Gipe said. "But I understand the reasoning because [the private schools] are definitely on a different playing field."

But that doesn't mean the directive makes sense.

"You have relationships built by coaches, and traditions where you have played them for years," one longtime South County coach said. "Yes, that would be very frustrating to have to tell them that your district is prohibiting the matches.

"It's an unfortunate turn of events that high school sports is being so politically motivated. I can see both sides."

Huntington Beach Coaches Rocky and Cammy Ciarelli have led the Oilers to three section boys' and girls' titles, but they don't schedule private schools for competitive equity issues.

At least that was a choice made by that coaching staff and school.

"It seems a little extreme," said Edison Coach Dennis Creighton, a 20-year coaching veteran. "If that happened in our district, it would really limit what you can do and you want to compete against the best. I just don't see what good comes out of this in the end."


Two of the county's top players are healing from recent injuries as league play hits full stride this week.

Irvine outside hitter Jody Carlson, who is being recruited by New Mexico State, sprained her ankle in a preseason scrimmage against Calvary Chapel and has missed the majority of the Vaqueros' matches this season.

She aggravated the injury in a match against Laguna Beach two weeks ago but should return to the lineup this week, which included Monday's key Sea View League match with defending league champ Newport Harbor.

Mater Dei junior Breegan Mulligan returned to action last week during a three-game victory over Newport Harbor. But Mulligan had her sore left foot iced following the match.

"She got a cortisone shot and there was a minute tear in a ligament," Pazanti said. "Nothing was broken or fractured. She'll be out for a week."

Mulligan will miss Thursday's Serra League match against Rosary, but she should return for the Oct. 12 match against Lakewood St. Joseph.


Top-ranked San Clemente opens South Coast League play at No. 9-ranked Capistrano Valley tonight, in a matchup of probable title contenders.

The Cougars feature two of the county's top middle blockers--Ashley Thometz and Melissa Owen--and one of the county's best setters, Andrea Delsigne. However, a sprained ankle has hampered Delsigne, who missed the Dave Mohs Memorial tournament.

Also tonight, the Pacific Coast League's top two teams meet when No. 6 Corona del Mar plays at No. 7 Laguna Beach at 5:30 p.m.

Thursday, No. 10 El Toro, led by junior Kim Wilson, will host San Clemente in another key South Coast League match.

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