Sailors claim OC Championships

Sailors claim OC Championships
(Courtesy of Willie Reichenstein)

Rocky Ciarelli likes to say he has been coaching high school boys' volleyball since the Stone Age. He has been around for a long time.

During his 30 years in charge, Ciarelli said he could not recall two of his players suffering the same kind of arm injury that Dayne Chalmers and Spencer Lawrence have early this year for Newport Harbor. Ciarelli didn't have the services of Chalmers at the beginning because of a strained tricep. He then lost Lawrence to that injury during the second weekend of the month at the Best of the West Invitational in San Diego.


Lawrence, a middle blocker headed to Ohio State, has been out ever since, while Chalmers returned last week, a couple of days before the Orange County Championships started on Friday.

Three days later, Lawrence was in street clothes during the OC Championships Division 1 finals at Edison. He somehow managed to get on the stat sheet.


Lawrence didn't play, and the Sailors didn't need the senior to win the tournament. They beat the Chargers, 21-25, 25-15, 15-8, in the best-of-three finale on Monday.

As for how Lawrence ended up with nine kills, Dan Glenn, an assistant coach, figured it out.

"He was taking stats," Glenn said of the 6-foot-5 Lawrence, whom the team expects to return next Monday.

Without Lawrence, the Sailors still won each of their six matches during the three-day tournament. Landon Monroe, Cole Pender and Ethan Talley led the way.

Monroe earned the all-tournament MVP award, and Pender and Talley made the all-tournament team.

Monroe set the offense up, and he took his swings. He finished with five kills, four coming in Game 2 to even the contest.

Pender, a junior outside hitter committed to UCLA, finished with 12 kills. Talley added eight kills.

Pender got the Sailors (14-2), ranked No. 4 in the CIF Southern Section Division 1 poll, rolling early in Game 3. He produced two straight service aces, and Newport Harbor took a 4-0 lead. Chalmers, a sophomore, had a couple of kills, and Pender and Drew Johnston recorded winners.

Monroe served strong during the Sailors' 6-0 run, helping them take an 11-2 lead. Edison (9-9), ranked No. 5, couldn't recover.

The first and last contests for Edison in the tournament came against teams it finished behind last year in the Sunset League. The Chargers fell short of taking down co-league champions Huntington Beach and Newport Harbor, the Oilers in pool-play action on Friday and the Sailors in the finale on Monday.

"They got in a good rhythm," Edison Coach Matt Skolnik said of the Sailors.

Edison and Newport Harbor have tough road matches on Tuesday. The Chargers are at Santa Margarita, and the Sailors go to No. 7 Manhattan Beach Mira Costa.

"No rest for the weary," Ciarelli said.

The opening set played out close early on, until the Chargers went on a 4-0 run. They took a 13-8 lead, as Corey Taylor, an all-tournament selection, and Trent Williams each blocked a shot. The Sailors committed two violations.

Edison's advantage grew to as many as six. Then Newport Harbor rallied, getting within two four times late. The Sailors couldn't get closer because they hit into a wall.

James Carpenter and Joe Leas combined to turn away Pender, putting the Chargers up, 24-21. At set point, Connor Hanks, an all-tournament selection, and Kyle McCauley teamed up to stuff Talley.

Edison led Game 1 from start to finish. Game 2 saw the Chargers strike first, and then it would be even five times. At 11-11, Chalmers gave Newport Harbor its first lead. He recorded a kill, and Monroe followed that up with a kill.

With the Sailors up, 13-11, Edison called a timeout. When play resumed, Newport Harbor increased its lead. Edison committed a net violation, and Pender hammered a kill.

Newport Harbor took control, taking a 20-12 lead. The momentum stayed with the Sailors in the last set.

Despite claiming the tournament, there was something lacking for Ciarelli.

"I wish there were more Orange County teams that would play," said Ciarelli, referring to only 10 teams being in the top division, compared to 16 in years past. "This tournament has been going on 44 years longer than any tournament in Southern California, and it is an Orange County tournament. If Orange County teams don't want to come, then we should start looking at [Los Angeles] Loyola and Mira Costa, and those schools."

Twitter: @ByDCP