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VALLEY / VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS | HIGH SCHOOL VOLLEYBALL

Oxnard's Morrison Attains Great Heights

October 04, 2000|MIKE BRESNAHAN

The pinnacle of pleasure for Sarah Morrison was, oh, about 10 feet high.

Morrison was one of several players on the Oxnard High girls' team dared by Coach Lori Rice to touch the top of a doorway adjacent to the gym.

The reward: Anyone who touched it would never again have to take part in post-practice conditioning.

Suffice it to say that Morrison never has to do another lap, push-up or after-practice back pedal as long as she attends Oxnard.

After a few unsuccessful tries, she touched the top of the doorway, then did it two more times for the sake of her disbelieving coach.

Morrison, who chooses to take part in conditioning anyway--"I figure I owe it to my team," she said--has seen her volleyball ability grow in leaps and bounds.

She was so scared during her first varsity action in a late-season tournament as a freshman that she broke down and cried.

The action was too fast. The opponents were too big.

"Every time she went up for a block, she was late," Rice said. "Every time she tried to hit she was shut down. I honestly don't think she did one thing right."

But the 5-foot-10 senior outside hitter has led Oxnard (6-3) to new heights. Two weeks ago, she sparked the Yellowjackets to victory over powerhouse Santa Barbara for the first time in school history.

And Morrison, who has committed to Cal State Fullerton, helped Oxnard finish fourth at last weekend's upper-echelon Royal tournament.

Rice couldn't help but notice Morrison's scintillating play at the tournament. She turned to Morrison's father, Ernest, and asked a simple question: Does Fullerton know what they're getting?

His smile said it all. If they don't know yet, they will soon.

Morrison has been a part of the volleyball landscape since the age of five, when she served as a ball girl for her aunt, Pam Morrison, who coached at Channel Islands.

Morrison later played for her father, who was the principal and volleyball coach of her elementary school.

These days, Morrison plays volleyball year-round and has been a force for her club team. During warm-ups last June, she hit a ball so hard that it dazed one of her unsuspecting teammates on the other side of the net.

"I felt pretty bad," Morrison said. "She had to sit out the rest of the day."

*

La Reina, an all-girls' school that competes in Southern Section Division IV-AA, has proven it can hold its own with the big schools.

Including tournament play, the Regents have gone 9-0 against Marmonte League teams the past two years, including victories over Westlake both seasons.

The Regents (13-0) also won the 20-team Royal tournament last weekend, with Jennifer Ryan winning most valuable player honors.

The Tri-Valley League has not provided much resistance for the Regents in recent years, which is why Coach Don Hyatt has scheduled tough nonleague matches.

With Ryan, who has committed to Santa Clara, the Regents can compete against any school.

"It's a pretty amazing level that she's been performing," Hyatt said. "There have been some questions as to whether she could put up numbers against top-notch teams. She proved this weekend that she can."

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Royal middle blocker Carly Huffman might not play in an important Marmonte League match Thursday at Westlake.

Huffman, one of the top middle blockers in the region, bruised her knee in a match against Newbury Park last Thursday. She tried to practice Monday but had to stop.

"It would be nice to get her back, but it's banged up real bad," Coach Travis Ferguson said. "Now we have to figure out how to win without her on the court."

Melissa Stites, a junior, would likely take Huffman's place.

Royal or Westlake has won the last four league titles. Both teams were part of a four-way tie for first in 1995.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

Girls' Volleyball Top 10

Rankings of teams in the region

*--*

RK LW School (League) Rec. 1 1 Harvard-Westlake (Mission) 5-0 2 2 La Reina (Tri-Valley) 13-0 3 8 Oxnard (Pacific View) 6-3 4 5 Sylmar (Valley Mission) 5-0 5 7 La Canada (Rio Hondo) 9-2 6 6 Village Christian (Alpha) 13-0 7 NR Highland (Golden) 5-1 8 4 Ventura (Channel) 4-1 9 3 Westlake (Marmonte) 4-1 10 10 Chatsworth (West Valley) 4-1

*--*

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