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GIRLS' VOLLEYBALL

Hawks' Eagles Haven't Quite Taken Flight--Yet

September 26, 2000|MICHAEL ITAGAKI

Santa Margarita's first-year coach, John Hawks, knows all about the Eagles' recent success. They carry a string of four consecutive Southern Section titles into this season and they are also the defending Division II state champions.

Former Coach Eddie Rapp, now the women's coach at Fullerton College, built up the program with Hawks as his assistant. Now it's Hawks' turn on the hot seat, and he knows it will be a long road to another championship.

The Eagles return only one starter and two players who saw significant action last season. But there is still potential and hope.

Elin Mannix, a junior middle blocker, is the one returning starter, and 5-foot-11 junior setter Shelby Hamm, who filled in part-time as a starter last season, is another key component for the young team. Back-row specialist Chrystal Day is also back.

"They're getting used to me," Hawks said. "There have been times already where mentally, they want to kill me, I want to kill them, we want to kill each other.

"We have 11 girls who played JVs last season, where they went 16-3, so they know how to win, just not on the varsity level. Sometimes, you need to get your butt kicked to learn how to win."

The Eagles had a disappointing showing in the Dave Mohs Memorial tournament two weeks ago, advancing to the championship bracket where they lost in the first round to Los Angeles Marymount.

Last week, Santa Margarita defeated San Diego Francis Parker in five games but lost to El Toro in four games.

"We have such a long way to go," Hawks said. "But I'm excited to see what we'll look like in a month or so."

WEEKEND UPDATE

Mater Dei, the second-ranked team in Orange County, reached the finals of the Las Vegas Durango tournament last weekend, but lost to Stockton St. Mary's in the double-elimination tournament final, 15-9, 15-8.

Mater Dei Coach Craig Pazanti said his team may have let the tournament slip away when it lost in the winner's bracket final to St. Mary's, 15-13, 12-15, 18-16.

Although the Monarchs defeated Honolulu Punahou, 15-6, 15-2, to get another shot at St. Mary's, the effects of the loss lingered.

"We were up, 14-12, in the third game of the winner's bracket final and we didn't finish them off when we had to," Pazanti said. "I felt like we were playing Newport Harbor in the finals or something. Nothing hit the floor and they created their own breaks. They played phenomenal.

"And playing that extra game took a little too much from our bodies. But I wasn't disappointed in how we played."

At the same tournament, Laguna Beach finished sixth and Irvine was seventh.

Also last weekend, Los Alamitos won the University tournament title, with all-tournament selection Sara Kroneberger leading the way.

In the Capistrano Valley tournament, La Habra and Capistrano Valley lost in the semifinals. Long Beach Poly, which opened the week with a victory over San Clemente in the Dave Mohs Division I tournament final, beat Capistrano Valley, 15-8, 14-16, 15-6, 15-9, then beat Lakewood to win the title, 7-15, 15-10, 15-5, 15-3.

Lakewood beat La Habra in the semifinals, 11-15, 15-8, 5-15, 15-8, 15-11, but La Habra rebounded to beat Capistrano Valley in the third-place match, 15-5, 15-13, 19-17.

It was La Habra's second victory over Capistrano Valley in four days. La Habra also defeated Capistrano Valley in four games at home Wednesday.

BOUNCING BACK

It was a good rebound week for La Habra, which also defeated Los Alamitos in three games last week. At the Dave Mohs Memorial tournament, La Habra lost its three pool-play games and didn't advance to the championship bracket.

The Highlanders played two of those tournament matches without USC-bound outside hitter Keao Burdine, who was off taking her SATs, La Habra Coach Troy Abbey said. But he didn't want to make excuses.

"After that experience at [the Mohs tournament], we've started clicking," Abbey said. "We're more cohesive."

SOUTH COAST SLEEPERS

It's not like the South Coast League or South Orange County schools are taken lightly, but not many coaches predicted that El Toro or Dana Hills would make a lot of noise this season.

The Chargers, with junior Kim Wilson leading the way, have started strong, winning three matches last week, including a convincing three-game victory over then-eighth-ranked Santa Margarita.

Dana Hills also was upset-minded, posting a five-game victory over then-No. 10 Esperanza.

LOOKING AHEAD

There are plenty of good matchups this week, but the best should be on Saturday, when second-ranked Mater Dei, led by juniors Breegan Mulligan, Whitney Pavlik and senior Kelley Kincheloe, hosts third-ranked Newport Harbor at 5 p.m.

The Sailors, the three-time defending Southern Section Division I-AA and two-time defending state Division I champions, are still without UCLA-bound middle blocker Heather Cullen, who suffered a knee injury during the club season.

But with Taylor Govaars leading the way, Newport Harbor beat sixth-ranked Corona del Mar in four games last week. Newport Harbor also plays fourth-ranked Huntington Beach Thursday.

Huntington Beach, with returning All-Sunset League player Serena Bountour, starts its week playing host to Corona del Mar, led by junior setter Jacqueline Becker, today at 5 p.m.

Also today, eighth-ranked La Habra will try to claim North Orange County bragging rights when it plays Kristy Chester and Esperanza today at 4:30 p.m.

*

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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