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GIRLS' VOLLEYBALL

No. 1 Tritons Have Greater Expectations

September 19, 2000|MICHAEL ITAGAKI

After San Clemente reached Monday's final of the Dave Mohs Memorial tournament, the Tritons raised expectations as they took over the top spot in the county sportswriters' rankings.

But the Tritons are trying hard not to get too excited about their No. 1 position.

"We know everybody's going to be gunning for us now, so there won't be any easy matches," San Clemente Coach Rob O'Rear said.

"Whatever expectations there are, we need to keep our perspective because, ultimately, we still have two months before we have an opportunity to prove [our ranking]."

Balancing that goal of building team intensity and peaking at season's end is the challenge facing any squad with championship dreams.

"I see more potential that we still haven't gotten out of this team yet," O'Rear said. "I want our girls to recognize how fleeting their high-school season and careers are. Two months seems like so long now, but it's going to be over in an instant.

"By the time they're seniors, they understand that."

Christina Vick is one of those seniors. The 6-foot-1 middle blocker, who has committed to Santa Clara, is one of the keys for the Tritons. A co-captain with Heather Morgan, she has moved to the middle this season as O'Rear moved junior Katy Daly to outside hitter.

"Christina's a great leader," O'Rear said. "She's so effective. I don't see a middle out there that will be able to shut her down consistently."

Their other middle blocker is Megan Blackshire, a 6-foot junior who O'Rear calls a "pure athlete." She gives the Tritons a potent tandem.

Daly was the team's kill leader in the tournament, and her rapid development is another reason for the Tritons' climb up the rankings.

"The amount of maturity she has gained in a year is phenomenal," O'Rear said. "She has such a great game face and for her, there is no personal glory. She just wants to lead this team to victory."

Another key junior is Lauren Boissevain, a 6-foot setter who was third on the team in kills at the tournament. The Tritons run a 6-2 offense, with Boissevain setting when she is in the back row and Diana Thompson setting when she is in the back row.

O'Rear said this team compares favorably to his 1995 team, which lost a five-game thriller in the Southern Section Division I quarterfinals to eventual champion Manhattan Beach Mira Costa.

"This team has more firepower," O'Rear said. "Any rotation, we have three strong hitters."

SMALL SCHOOL, BIG DREAMS

St. Margaret's won its first section championship last season, a Division V-AA title, and the Tartans are gunning for a second consecutive title this season, although they lost player of the year Allison Bendush, who is at Harvard.

Sophomore Kamme Hauser is one of the players picking up the slack, helping St. Margaret's reach Monday's Division II final of the Dave Mohs Memorial tournament.

"We still have some kinks to work out," St. Margaret's Coach Susie Maga said. "But the weekend gave them some confidence. Maybe they weren't so sure that they could reach their goal of reaching the [section] finals, but now those goals seem pretty realistic."

PARITY PARTY

Just two weeks into the season, it's already apparent that balance is the buzzword around the county. Nine of the county's top-10 ranked teams last week lost either a best-of-five match or at least one best-of-three match in the Dave Mohs tournament.

"[Unranked] Laguna Beach goes and beats Newport Harbor, then we beat Laguna, and Newport and El Toro kill us in the tournament," Huntington Beach Coach Rocky Ciarelli said. "It looks like it's just going to be that kind of year."

VEGAS BOUND

Last week's No. 1 team in the county, Mater Dei, heads to Las Vegas this weekend for the Durango tournament, one of the nation's top tournaments. In the Dave Mohs tournament, the Monarchs defeated Irvine and Los Gatos in the championship bracket before being eliminated in Saturday's semifinals by Long Beach Poly.

But Mater Dei Coach Craig Pazanti isn't concerned. He said his team played soundly and his top player, junior opposite Breegan Mulligan, was "unbelievable" in the tournament.

In the quarterfinals, Mulligan had 27 kills, with only four errors, in 40 attempts during a three-game victory over Los Gatos. But the Monarchs ran out of gas.

"Fatigue played a little factor in the tournament for us," Pazanti said. "Not to take anything away from Long Beach Poly, but I was disappointed since I thought they outhustled us.

LOOKING AHEAD

San Clemente has another tough match following Monday's Dave Mohs tournament Division I final when it hosts sixth ranked Huntington Beach today. Thursday, Huntington Beach hosts third-ranked Irvine.

Fourth-ranked Newport Harbor and fifth-ranked Corona del Mar no longer play in the same league, but they continue their neighborhood rivalry. Their first meeting is Thursday at Corona del Mar and the second will be on the final day of the regular season, Nov. 3.

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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