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There's a Sizable Change This Year


So much for small ball.

Last season was one for the small schools, a surprising number of them rising up to defeat their counterparts with the 2,000-plus student enrollments and sprawling campuses.

It was a clip-and-save bonanza for the tiny tots: L.A. Marymount finished No. 1 in The Times' final girls' volleyball rankings, North Hollywood Harvard-Westlake was No. 5 and Lakewood St. Joseph was No. 10.

But bigger is back this season, and in a big way.

Of last year's small-school successes, only Marymount, with an enrollment of 395, appears in The Times' preseason rankings, at No. 3.

The Sailors will be joined by Long Beach Wilson (4,400 students), Manhattan Beach Mira Costa (2,400), Los Alamitos (2,800) and Anaheim Esperanza (3,000) as the top teams in the region this season.

"We're the only small school, really," Marymount Coach Cari Klein said. With one exception: Torrance Bishop Montgomery is ranked No. 9.

Wilson, with outside hitters Cynthia Barboza, a 6-foot sophomore, and Emily Hendrickson, a 5-11 senior, could have the best team in school history.

Sydney Donahue, a 5-foot-8 junior, can pound the ball at outside hitter for Mira Costa, which won the Iolani tournament in Hawaii last month after losing to Harvard-Westlake in the tournament championship the two previous years.

"It runs in cycles," Mira Costa Coach DaeLea Aldrich said. "There will be some down years [for big schools]."

The list of giants goes on: Long Beach Poly (4,500), Newport Harbor (2,290), Santa Ana Mater Dei (2,080) and Capistrano Valley (2,825) round out The Times' rankings.

"There seems to be a lot of us up there this time," Wilson Coach Susan Pescar said. "It shows it's kind of moving around a little bit.

"If you look at the [small-school] programs, a lot of those people play club. Then their friends from club come and they all play high school together. Suddenly, it turns into a really good team. Then it goes through a cycle of winning. Then they have to rebuild. It's a cycle thing."

Marymount, a secluded all-girls' school at the base of the Bel-Air Country Club, won the state Division IV title last season.

With setter/outside hitter Haley Jorgensborg leading the way, Marymount defeated Mira Costa and San Clemente at the Torrey Pines tournament last October and nearly upset eventual state Division I champion Torrey Pines in the tournament championship.

Two weeks later, Marymount met Harvard-Westlake in a nonleague match that marked one of the finest hours for small-school volleyball in Los Angeles: Marymount, No. 3 in The Times' rankings at the time, defeated No. 2 Harvard-Westlake in four games, took over the top spot and never relinquished its ranking, losing only one game in eight playoff matches.

Jorgensborg is at UCLA, but the return of senior middle blockers Virginia Levannas and Liz Cvitan makes the Sailors overwhelming favorites to win a third consecutive state Division IV championship.




A preseason look at the top 10 girls' volleyball teams in the Southland:

1. L.B. Wilson (25-8 last year, SS-Div. I-AA)

Sophomore outside hitter Cynthia Barboza is stellar, as is surrounding talent.

2. Mira Costa (31-6, SS-Div. I-A)

Young but good; junior outside hitter Sydney Donahue and freshman setter Taylor Carico are worth watching.

3. Marymount (34-4, SS-Div. IV-AA)

Can small-school Sailors again navigate way through large-school opponents?

4. Los Alamitos (14-4, SS-Div. I-AA)

Setter Ashley Tarutis, an All-Southern Section selection last season as a sophomore, runs a well-rounded offense.

5. Esperanza (21-4, SS-Div. I-AA)

Now and later: Senior Dyanne Lawlor has committed to Long Beach State; 6-2 freshman Ashley Engle will be a four-year fixture.

6. Newport Harbor (22-11, SS-Div. II-AA)

Middle blocker Kristin McClune will go to Pepperdine; Sailors will go as far as she carries them.

7. Long Beach Poly (26-5, SS-Div. I-AA)

Outside hitter Cynthia Buggs will be bothering and, yes, bugging opponents.

8. Mater Dei (33-4, SS-Div. II-A)

Not quite the potent attack of a year ago, but Monarchs won't be dethroned quietly.

9. Bishop Montgomery (20-8, SS-Div. III-A)

After a couple of relatively quiet years, Knights are back in Division III state title hunt.

10. Capistrano Valley (11-6, SS-Div. I-A)

Brandy Magee, a 6-2 middle blocker who has committed to Texas, ensures the Cougars of a strong season.

Mike Bresnahan

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