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GIRLS' VOLLEYBALL

Big Barometer

County's Top Teams View Dave Mohs Tournament as First Step Toward Building a Successful Season

September 12, 2000|MIKE ITAGAKI

It's a good thing they renamed the Orange County Championships the Dave Mohs Memorial tournament because it has continued to evolve into something more than a showdown for local bragging rights.

The field for this weekend's tournament--named after the former Edison coach who died of cancer in 1996--includes all of Orange County's top 10-ranked teams, plus top teams from Los Angeles, San Diego, Riverside and San Bernardino counties.

Even two out-of-state teams--Morgan, Utah, and Newport, Wash.--are entered in Division II.

The 32 teams entered in Division I include four Southern Section champions from last season and six section finalists, including Newport Harbor, the three-time defending Division I-AA champion; Santa Margarita, which has won four consecutive section titles, and Torrance Bishop Montgomery, which has won three of the last four Division III-AA championships.

Also in the Division I field are out-of-area powers North Hollywood Harvard-Westlake, the top-ranked team in The Times' San Fernando Valley-Ventura County region, and Del Mar Torrey Pines, the top-ranked team in San Diego.

Harvard-Westlake is led by 6-foot junior middle blocker Courtney Schultz, and returning setter Sheyna Greenamyer leads Torrey Pines, winner of 11 San Diego Section titles.

Mater Dei, the top-ranked team in Orange County, is coming off a season during which it reached the Southern Section Division I-A final. The Monarchs are led by 5-11 junior opposite Breegan Mulligan and 6-2 senior middle blocker Kelley Kincheloe.

The top-seeded teams in the eight four-team pools of the Division I draw are Harvard-Westlake, Long Beach Poly, Mater Dei, Bishop Montgomery, Irvine, Esperanza, Capistrano Valley and Newport Harbor.

"Even in pool play, there are usually two or even three really good teams," said Corona del Mar Coach Steve Conti, whose team, ranked eighth in the county, is also entered.

Both divisions begin pool play Friday at 4 p.m. at Edison, Huntington Beach, Newport Harbor and Ocean View high schools. Pool play continues Saturday at 8 a.m. at each school followed by single-elimination tournament play, featuring 16-team championship and consolation brackets in Division I.

The championship matches are Monday at Edison High, beginning with the Division II final at 6 p.m. followed by the Division I final.

ACID TEST

The county's traditional powers usually play in the Dave Mohs Memorial tournament because it serves as a good barometer, allowing them to compete against some of the area's best teams early in the season.

But those schools aren't the only ones that welcome the high-caliber competition. Section Division II teams La Habra, Cypress and El Dorado are also playing in the Division I portion of the tournament.

La Habra, led by USC-bound senior Keao Burdine, is top-ranked in the Southern Section's preseason Division II-A poll and Cypress is fourth-ranked in Division II-A.

"This tournament is a good challenge," said Conti, whose Corona del Mar team is ranked third in the Division III-AA preseason poll behind Harvard-Westlake and Bishop Montgomery.

"Our girls' teams have never done well in this tournament, but we're looking forward to it. I want us to have a good experience and grow as a team."

The Sea Kings hope to take the first step toward a championship season this weekend with senior Lindsey Anstandig and juniors Katie Duggan and Jacqueline Becker leading the way.

"Jacqueline's starting to become more of a leader," Conti said. "She will be one of the better setters in the county next year. But the thing I love about her the most is that she loves to compete."

OUT OF SIGHT, NOT OUT OF MIND

Corona del Mar's top challenger in the Pacific Coast League figures to be Laguna Beach, though the Artists aren't entered in the Dave Mohs Memorial tournament.

Still, Laguna Beach, led by 6-1 junior middle blockers Sarah Salem and Brittany Wood, will receive plenty of tests.

This week, the Artists host fifth-ranked Newport Harbor tonight at 5:30 and then play at fourth-ranked Huntington Beach at 6 p.m. Thursday.

Next week, Laguna Beach will host third-ranked Irvine on Sept. 19. The Artists are also entered in two high-powered tournaments: Torrey Pines, Oct. 13-14, and Santa Barbara, Oct. 21-22.

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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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