Sienna Curci's 11th ace of the match sealed the Southern Section 5-A girls' volleyball championship for undefeated Newport Harbor Saturday, as the Sailors beat Corona del Mar, 6-15, 11-15, 15-12, 15-5, 15-6. The Sailors rallied from a two-game deficit to defeat the Sea Kings before a raucous crowd of 2,000 at Marina High School.
Corona del Mar, which finished 17-3, lost all three games to Sea View League rival Newport Harbor.
Newport Harbor finishes 20-0, winning its first championship since 1979.
Newport Harbor began to regain momentum in the second game, building a 6-2 lead behind four straight aces by Sienna Curci. Though the Sea Kings came back to eventually win the second game, the tide had turned.
The Sailors won a close, defensive third game and in the fourth game they dominated play. Newport Harbor scored eight unanswered points, taking a 10-1 lead behind the serving of Curci and the hitting of Becky Sherwood and Jenny Evans.
Evans, who was ineffective in the early part of the match, helped Newport Harbor take an early 8-1 lead in the deciding game. She finished with 24 kills.
Laurie Wooten led Corona del Mar with 17 kills.
In the 4-A final:
Irvine 3, Long Beach Wilson 0--Though Coach Mark McKenzie called his second-seeded team the underdog going into the section 4-A volleyball final, the Vaqueros dominated Long Beach Wilson, 15-6, 15-9, 15-1.
The victory over the top-seeded Bruins gave Irvine its third championship in seven years. Last year, the Vaqueros lost in the final to Gahr.
With the score tied, 1-1, in the first game, junior Bev Oden slammed the first of her 14 kills, as the Vaqueros (16-3) gained momentum to win the game.
In the second game, Irvine trailed, 6-2, but came back to tie the game, 8-8, and allowed Long Beach Wilson only two more points in the entire match.
McKenzie was concerned before the match. The Bruins had beaten Irvine, 15-6, in the Marlborough tournament earlier in the season.
"Last time we played them, they got up 6-0 and the momentum carried them through," he said. "This time, the roles were reversed. Momentum is the key in a match like this."
Nine Vaqueros will be returning next year, including 6-foot 1-inch Oden. Bev is the third Oden sister to lead the Vaqueros to a championship. Kim Oden helped the team earn the title in 1981 and Elaina Oden led the 1984 Vaqueros to the championship.
In addition to her kills, Oden had seven blocks. Teammate Cari Delson had nine kills, three aces and one block.
Melanie Kaiser led Long Beach Wilson with six kills and one block. Jan Harmonson had five kills and two aces. The Bruins finish the year 16-2.