DIVISION I GIRLS' VOLLEYBALL REGIONAL PLAYOFFS : Newport Harbor Better Where It Counts

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Luckily these things aren't played on paper.

When Newport Harbor met Poway in the second round of the Southern California Division I girls' volleyball playoffs Saturday night at Poway High, Poway had the edge in writing.

Height, experience, impressive statistics and the nod when it came to match-ups.

But none of that could match what Newport Harbor had going for it, including a factor of revenge and a timely showing of the movie "Hoosiers."

With them, Newport Harbor upended Poway's high State tournament hopes, 15-12, 11-15, 15-9, 15-7. The Sailors advanced to Tuesday night's State semifinal at Stockton St. Mary's from the Northern California Regional.

"To fire us up, our coach had us watch 'Hoosiers,' " said Misty May, who had 36 kills for Newport Harbor (22-1) and served four aces in Game 1.

But cinema wouldn't be enough by itself. Sailor Coach Dan Glenn figured it would be tough to dismantle second-seeded Poway's crack offense, so serving and defense would be key.

They were, and the Titans' offense came tumbling down.

"We knew Poway would be good," Glenn said. "People in (Orange County) don't know about them, but we knew. Heck, they have four Division I college girls."

Two of them, UCLA-bound Kara Milling--a second cousin of former NBA player Jack Sikma--and Ohio State-bound Keri Byrne, combined for 36 kills and played well, but not well enough to stop the Sailors.

"Kara and Keri played well, I don't know what happened to everyone else," Poway Coach Lisa Reis said. "We scouted them out, we knew what we had to do. We just didn't do it."

At least not long enough. After Newport Harbor opened strong, Poway (28-2) took a 7-1 lead in Game 2 and won, 15-11, taking advantage of seven Sailor service errors.

Newport Harbor led most of Game 3 and throughout the fourth. Poway held off match points one and two, but Melissa Schutz (12 kills) ended it on a kill down the middle.

In the end, it was Newport Harbor's gutsy serving that helped the Sailors advance and reach their much-anticipated rematch with St. Mary's, the team that beat them in a prestigious national tournament in Chicago in October and dropped their national ranking, which has since shot back up to No. 2, behind Corona del Mar and ahead of No. 3 Poway.

"We want a chance to play St. Mary's again and hopefully, Corona," said May, in anticipation of a State championship rematch with the Sea View League rival Sea Kings; Newport Harbor won twice in league play but lost in the Southern Section Division I title game Nov. 20.

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