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DIVISION II STATE VOLLEYBALL CHAMPIONSHIP : Kristich, La Habra Win Again

TIMES STAFF WRITER

La Habra’s Zrinka Kristich closed out her high school volleyball career Saturday night by taking target practice on San Jose Leland.

Leland’s small lineup was no match for Kristich, a 6-foot-5 outside hitter who finished with a state-record 36 kills in a 15-8, 14-16, 15-4, 15-11 victory in the State Division II championship match at Cal State Fullerton.

The record was short-lived, however, broken by Lakewood St. Joseph’s Jaimie Torromeo, who had 47 in a loss to El Toro in the Division I final.

It was the third consecutive Division II title and 21st consecutive victory for the Highlanders (25-2).

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La Habra’s Sandy Blumenthal became the first coach to win three State titles. Three other schools--Mira Costa Manhattan Beach, Francis Parker and Rim of the World--won three titles, but with different coaches.

Kristich, who is headed to UCLA on a basketball scholarship, broke the state and Division II record of 31 kills set in 1988 by Petaluma’s Katy Eldridge. Kristich also broke the record for kills per game (nine), surpassing the previous mark of eight set by Tracy Hughes of Francis Parker in 1986.

The record was sweet for Kristich. Her only previous entry in the state record books was for hitting errors (18) set in 1989. Kristich had only eight errors in 81 attempts Saturday night.

Kristich was surprised when the kill record was announced during the fourth game.

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“I didn’t think I had that many at all,” she said. “I thought I had, like, 20.”

Kristich wasn’t the only Highlander to break a record. Setter Stefanie Bakke’s 52 assists broke the state record by one, and Jeanette Little’s 29 digs bettered the state record by six. Meagan Mirth added 28 digs.

Leland (26-5) also set a Division II record, finishing with 94 digs. The Chargers’ tallest player is 5-10.

Kristich had seven kills in the first game as the Highlanders built a 7-1 lead. La Habra led, 12-7, and survived 13 side outs before scoring three of the final four points to win the game.

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In the second game, La Habra rallied from an 8-3 deficit to take a 14-10 lead. But Leland fought off two game points and capitalized on four La Habra hitting errors to score the next six points and tie the match at a game apiece.

“We had more errors in that game than we had all season,” Blumenthal said. “We just don’t make errors like that.”

La Habra was practically flawless in the third game. Kristich had 10 kills as the Highlanders built a 9-1 lead in the game and were never threatened.


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