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GIRLS' VOLLEYBALL

Irvine Establishes Its Future by Escaping the Past

October 24, 2000|MIKE ITAGAKI

Irvine celebrated more than a probable Sea View League championship when it defeated Newport Harbor last week. The Vaqueros also vanquished some ghosts.

Last season, Irvine could have earned a share of the league title with a victory over Newport Harbor in the second round. And the Vaqueros came agonizingly close. Irvine had a two-games-to-one lead and had seven match points with a 14-3 lead in the fourth game.

Newport Harbor rallied to win the game, 17-15, then won the match behind two-time Orange County player of the year and current USC standout April Ross, to win the title outright.

But this season its finally been Irvine's turn.

Irvine beat Newport Harbor in three games in the first round of league play this season, but had to win the rematch last week at Newport Harbor's claustrophobic gym. But the Vaqueros emerged victorious in four games.

"We conquered some phantoms [Thursday]" Irvine Coach Mark Mednick. "I can't remember the last time we beat Newport . . . maybe when Bev was here."

That's Bev Oden, former U.S. Olympian and four-time All-American at Stanford, who led Irvine to consecutive state Division I titles in 1987-88.

Irvine (10-1, 5-0 in league) still needs to win two more league matches to claim the league title. But that shouldn't be too tall an order.

The Vaqueros, ranked third in the Southern Section Division I-A poll, had not lost a game in league until its five-game victory over Newport Harbor (9-6, 3-2) Thursday.

PLAYOFF PREPPING

St. Margaret's, the defending section Division V-AA champion, hasn't been pushed much in the Academy League, but the Tartans did suffer their first nonleague loss last week.

Cerritos Whitney, ranked fourth in Division IV-AA, beat St. Margaret's, top-ranked in Division V-AA, 14-16, 2-15, 15-3, 15-11, 15-4.

The Tartans (9-1) rebounded with a league victory over Connelly Friday, then on Saturday won the Los Angeles Brentwood tournament, defeating Sun Valley Village Christian in the best-of-three final. Village Christian is ranked second in Division IV-A.

St. Margaret's Monique Kettler was chosen tournament MVP and Erin Balak and Polly Bendush earned all-tournament honors.

OK, MAYBE NOT THAT GOOD

Newport Harbor Coach Dan Glenn thinks freshman outside hitter Alyson Jennings has a bright future, but he doesn't want to put too much pressure on her.

Contrary to previous reports, Glenn said he does not consider Jennings the best ball-control freshman he's coached. After all, Glenn coached Misty May, a U.S. beach volleyball Olympian and two-time college player of the year.

"I said that Alyson's ball control was better than any of the freshmen I had except Misty," Glenn said.

LOOKING AHEAD

Huntington Beach, ranked sixth in the county, will try to avenge its first-round league loss to fifth-ranked Esperanza when it plays at Esperanza Friday.

Kristy Chester and Sarah Engle helped the Aztecs win the first meeting in four games at Huntington Beach.

Also Friday, the top teams in the Golden West League meet when Allison Nofziger leads Ocean View in a home match against Santa Ana, which last won a league title in 1972.

Thursday, El Dorado can probably clinch a share of the Empire League title with a victory at home against second-place Cypress.

San Clemente, the top-ranked team in the county, can clinch its second consecutive South Coast League title with victories over El Toro tonight and Dana Hills Thursday.

Newport Harbor and Santa Margarita will play in the 16-team Santa Barbara Tournament of Champions, Friday and Saturday. Manhattan Beach Mira Costa is the top-seeded team for the tournament, which features six of the top 10-ranked teams in the state's overall poll.

Newport Harbor plays Santa Barbara San Marcos in the first round and Santa Margarita plays San Jose Archbishop Mitty. Both matches are 1 p.m. Friday at Santa Barbara High.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

SOUTHERN SECTION POLLS

Division I-AA--1. Long Beach Poly, 2. San Clemente, 3. Upland, 4. El Toro, 5. Long Beach Wilson. Other: 9. Los Alamitos.

Division I-A--1. Mater Dei, 2. Manhattan Beach Mira Costa, 3. Huntington Beach, 4. Irvine, 5. Newport Harbor, Others: 6. Foothill, 9. El Dorado.

Division II-AA--1. North Torrance, 2. Santa Barbara, 3. South Torrance, 4. Santa Barbara San Marcos, 5. Santa Margarita. Others: 7. Cypress, 9. Valencia, 10. El Modena.

Division II-A--1. Lakewood St. Joseph, 2. La Habra, 3. Covina South Hills, 4. Atascadero, 5. San Luis Obispo. Other: 9. Laguna Hills.

Division III-AA--1. North Hollywood Harvard-Westlake, 2. Torrance Bishop Montgomery, 3. Corona del Mar, 4. La Canada, 5. Sherman Oaks Notre Dame. Other: 9. Rosary.

Division IV-AA--1. Laguna Beach, 2. Thousand Oaks La Reina, 3. L.A. Marymount, 4. Cerritos Whitney, 5. L.A. Notre Dame Academy.

Division IV-A--1. San Pedro Mary Star of the Sea, 2. Sun Valley Village Christian, 3. L.A. Marlborough, 4. Whittier Christian, 5. Sierra Madre Maranatha. Other: 6. Calvary Chapel.

Division V-AA--1. St. Margaret's, 2. Pasadena Poly, 3. Palos Verdes Chadwick, 4. Calabasas Viewpoint, 5. Carpinteria Cate. Other: 10. Capistrano Valley Christian.

Division V-A--1. Hemet Baptist Christian, 2. Santa Clarita Christian, 3. Santa Monica Lighthouse Christian Academy, 4. Liberty Christian, 5. Hesperia Christian.

*

If you have an item or idea for the girls' volleyball report, you can fax us at (714) 966-5663 or e-mail us at: mike.itagaki@latimes.com

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