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High Schools | SOUTHERN SECTION PLAYOFFS

Valencia Lets Out Sigh of Relief

May 24, 2003|Steve Galluzzo, Paul McLeod, Dan Arritt | From Staff Reports

So much for seeded teams getting breathers in the first round of playoffs.

Second-seeded Valencia was left holding its breath before pulling out a 1-0 victory Friday over Westlake Village Westlake in the Southern Section Division I softball playoffs.

Valencia (27-3) finished the regular season ranked No. 3 in the Southland by The Times and Westlake (17-11) was No. 20. The Warriors were ranked No. 14 only a week ago, but lost ace pitcher Michelle Rehm with tendinitis in her shoulder. In her place, Ava Amini (4-4) kept Valencia off-balance until one out in the seventh inning when a .197 hitter allowed the Vikings to breathe easier.

Natalie Mueggler had an infield single and, after a strikeout, Kortney Bell's line drive went off the glove of diving left fielder Taylor Minas for a game-winning triple.

"I struck out the first two times, so I concentrated on just hitting the ball, seeing it," said Bell, who had been batted for earlier in the season by a designated hitter. "I didn't get to contribute that much [this season], so it was big."

Winning pitcher Christina Ross (13-1), like Amini, allowed four hits and struck out three. She also pitched out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the third inning that saved the season, getting a fly ball and groundout against Westlake's fourth and fifth hitters, Megan Shie and Megan Ackerman.

Valencia will play Lakewood (19-7), a 1-0 winner over Moreno Valley Canyon Springs, on Tuesday.

In Southern Section Division I boys' volleyball quarterfinals:

Westlake Village Westlake d. Dana Point Dana Hills, 15-10, 17-15, 15-9 -- Brad Bilger had 14 kills and seven blocks to lead the host Warriors.

Four players had at least 10 kills for the seventh-seeded Warriors (17-2), who were ranked No. 7 in the Southland by The Times at the end of the regular season but simply had too many weapons for No. 5 Dana Hills.

"They spread their hitting around really well," Dana Hills Coach Oz Simmons said. "They were going down the line, they were going cross-court, and it was hard for us to guess who to block."

Westlake built a 9-3 lead in the first game. The Dolphins (13-4) closed to within 9-8, but got no closer. Dana Hills took a commanding 11-3 lead in the second game, but Westlake battled back to tie the score, staved off two game points and won on an ace by Max Wu.

"Our focus going into the playoffs was winning Game 2, because that's where we've been letting down in some of our matches," said Bilger, who has averaged 15 kills and four blocks in Westlake's three playoff victories. "We got really mad at ourselves in the huddle and decided we weren't going to give up on the game."

Stephen Shaw and Matt Schneider each had 13 kills for Westlake, which never trailed in the third game.

Bryan Ives had 14 kills and Kevin Smith added 13 for Dana Hills.

-- Steve Galluzzo

Huntington Beach d. Bellflower St. John Bosco, 11-15, 15-4, 15-7, 9-15, 15-13 -- The No. 3 Oilers nearly ran out of gas after opening a two-games-to-one lead, but middle blocker Brandon McLaughlin had just enough left in his tank to finish off the No. 4 Braves.

McLaughlin, who finished with 15 kills and 11 blocks, scored the final four points of the match for Huntington Beach (18-2) on a block and three kills out of short middle sets from Brock Boyce that appeared to catch the otherwise scrappy St. John Bosco defense off guard.

St. John Bosco (16-1) held its last lead at 7-6 in the fifth game, which was played under rally-scoring rules, but a kill by Eric Eastman, a hitting error by the Braves and an ace by Huntington Beach's Mark Abdou gave the Oilers control with a 9-7 advantage.

Kenny Markwardt led Huntington Beach with 19 kills and Eastman chipped in 15 kills and four blocks. Senior Brian Villaroman of St. John Bosco had a match-high 25 kills.

-- Paul McLeod

San Clemente d. Simi Valley, 10-15, 15-10, 15-11, 15-7 -- The second-seeded Tritons rebounded from a slow start to win at San Clemente.

After giving up the final six points in the first game, the Tritons (18-1) kept No. 10 Simi Valley (17-2), playing in its first quarterfinal, close in the second game before scoring three consecutive points to take a 10-7 lead.

J.D. Walker's service ace gave San Clemente game point and his dig set up Brett Simpson's game-ending kill.

The Tritons again fell behind early in the fourth game, but scored eight unanswered points to take a 9-5 lead. Walker's 18th kill ended the two-hour match. Simpson led the Tritons with 25 kills.

-- Dan Arritt

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