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Newbury Park Saunters to Win : Panther Girls, Unbowed by Royal Rally, Take Match in 5 Games

<i> Times Staff Writer </i>

How often will the Newbury Park High girls’ volleyball team pull out close victories without breaking a sweat?

The Panthers, who have made a habit of staging big rallies amid unemotional play, toyed with Royal before a small crowd Tuesday night, then put away the Highlanders, 16-14, 15-7, 9-15, 10-15, 15-11 in a Marmonte League match at Newbury Park.

For the record:
12:00 AM, Oct. 13, 1988 For the Record
Los Angeles Times Thursday October 13, 1988 Valley Edition Sports Part 3 Page 18 Column 1 Zones Desk 1 inches; 24 words Type of Material: Correction
A photo caption in Wednesday’s edition of The Times incorrectly identified two volleyball players. The players are Susan Pasquini and Keri Pederson of Newbury Park High.

Despite finding themselves behind in each game, the Panthers practiced their own Bobby McFerrin-inspired philosophy, Don’t worry, be happy.

And, happily for the Panthers, who have 5 starters from last season’s Southern Section 2-A Division runner-up team, they have compiled the league’s best record.

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Newbury Park (10-0, 6-0 in league play) beat Thousand Oaks, the two-time defending league champion, in 4 games Saturday to finish the first half of league play undefeated. The Panthers are ranked No. 4 in the latest 4-A poll.

“We were not really worried,” middle blocker Marlo Cormier said of Royal’s fourth-game rally. “We’ve always had confidence.”

Confidence? It looked more like apathy. While the Panthers were soft-shoeing their way through the third and fourth games, Coach Joe Wortmann was twisting on the sideline.

“When you win the first two games, you have a tendency to let down and say, ‘Oh, we’ve won,’ ” Wortmann said. “That’s what it seemed like we did. It was reminiscent of the semifinal match of last year.”

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At the time, Newbury Park upset the cool, collected, more-experienced Highlanders in the 2-A semifinals after losing the first 2 games.

Sound familiar? Although the teams’ roles were reversed, it looked like a similar upset was imminent after Royal (8-2, 4-2) won the third and fourth games and started strongly in the fifth.

But Newbury Park, after falling behind, 2-1, scored 8 of the next 9 points to jump ahead, 9-3.

Royal, which has 8 underclassmen and starts 4 of them, tied the score, 10-10, but Highlander errors gave Newbury Park 4 of its last 5 points and the match.

“Another close one we lost,” said Royal Coach Bob Ferguson, whose team lost to Thousand Oaks in 5 games earlier this season.

Camille Mitchell led Newbury Park with 13 kills.


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