Irvine High School was too deep, Mira Costa was too young and Bev Oden was Bev Oden as Irvine beat Mira Costa, 17-15, 15-10, 15-6, in the final of the Southern Section 5-A girls’ volleyball playoffs.
It was the second straight Southern Section championship for Irvine, which took the 4-A title last season with a 3-game victory over Long Beach Wilson, and the fourth championship in the 1980s.
The fact it came in three games should by no means denote that it was easy. Irvine had to overcome a 14-10 deficit in the first game and numerous service errors throughout the match.
In the first two games, it had a tough time getting the ball to Oden, their 6-foot 2-inch all-everything middle blocker, who had only 9 kills in that time.
Of course, by the third game Oden was virtually unstoppable getting 9 kills to give Irvine its easiest win of the three games.
“We were having a hard time controlling the ball,” said Mark McKenzie, Irvine coach. “We just couldn’t get the ball to Bev, but I thought the other girls really came through.”
The other girls were setter Jennifer Fu, outside hitters Melinda Norton and Holly Orme and middle blocker Sara Lockemy. With Oden relatively quiet at the net, Fu went to the aforementioned trio who responded with 22 kills--Orme had 8, Norton and Lockemy 7 each.
“Obviously we were keying on Bev and they did a great job of getting balance from the outside,” said DaeLea Adrich, Mira Costa coach. “Eventually we had to play that honestly, we couldn’t cheat and then Bev took over.”
Adrich’s team finishes the season at 22-1, not bad for a team made up entirely of underclassmen--10 juniors and 2 sophomores. It was a team that started fast, with a lot of emotion, and staked itself to a 14-10 lead in the first game.
But Mira Costa hit several spikes into the net and made service errors with game point on the line. As Mira Costa faltered, Irvine came back.
An Oden block tied the game, 14-14. Mira Costa went up, 15-14, but lost an opportunity for the win with another service error. Irvine’s Shawna Mickartz served an ace to tie the score, 15-15, and Lockemy later served another ace to put Irvine ahead, 16-15. Irvine won the the game on a Orme kill.
“I think our experience really mattered in this game,” Oden said. “It reminded me a lot of my sophomore year when we came in here and lost in three straight.”
Oden referred to the 1986 Irvine team she played on with with Fu and Norton that lost to Gahr in the 4-A final.
In the second game, Mira Costa was hanging tough, leading, 8-7, only to have Irvine score seven consecutive points to go up, 14-8.
“I think our age played a role in this,” Adrich said. “But I told them I didn’t want to see any tears. I told them that everyone of them is going to be back next year. If you were seniors, you could cry.”