Amid all the attention given to other events of the day, Newport Harbor won a tournament, and hardly anyone noticed.
The Sailors girls’ volleyball team goes about its business quietly, but as successfully as it gets, as evidenced by their Division I victory in the Orange County Championships Saturday night at Edison High. No. 2 Newport Harbor handled Laguna Beach, 15-7, 15-9, in the best-of-three final for the championship.
“We started to run out of gas,” Laguna Beach Coach Mike Soylular said. “It was great to get here. But it was such an emotional win over Corona del Mar.”
Did he say “win over Corona del Mar?” That’s right. The third-ranked Artists’ advanced to the final earlier Saturday with a 16-14, 15-13 semifinal victory over the No. 1 Sea Kings, the defending tournament, Southern Section, state and--unofficially--national champion.
Newport Harbor knew it took everything Laguna Beach had to eliminate Corona del Mar and took full advantage.
“They were so good against Corona del Mar, they didn’t have much emotion left for us,” said Newport Harbor’s Melissa Schutz, an all-tournament selection. “I respect that team so much. I know we’re going to play them in CIF.”
Laguna Beach’s performance Saturday, especially against the Sea Kings, was a departure from Thursday, when it fell to Newport Harbor in three consecutive games in a nonleague match, leading to some harsh words from outside hitter Hilary Kyle.
Kyle, another all-tournament pick, pounded away on the Sea Kings Saturday, and they never adjusted.
“I wondered what it would feel like to lose,” said Kristen Campbell, who hasn’t played on a losing Corona del Mar team since the 1991 playoffs. “It feels horrible. But Laguna outplayed us. They wanted it more.”
Corona del Mar might have underestimated Laguna Beach after Newport Harbor’s easy victory just 48 hours earlier.
“I think that hurt us. We let down a little because of that,” said Campbell, who admitted the loss now was easier to swallow than when a section or state title is on the line.
Newport Harbor’s Misty May, the tournament MVP, led the Sailors with 18 kills.
Division II--Los Alamitos defeated Mission Viejo, 4-15, 15-9, 15-13, for the title. All-tournament selection Katie Pearce stepped up to secure the victory as MVP Maria Bowden missed much of the final with a nagging injury. All-tournament Nina Foster led the Diablos.
Division III--Cypress defeated Rosary, 15-8, in the final at Westminster High. Cypress was led by tournament MVP Julie Adams, who recorded 65 kills in 13 games on the day, and setter Jessica Eggleston, who also made the all-tournament team.