Opinions varied as to the cause of the Torrance High girls' volleyball team's 15-11, 16-14, 15-12 loss against Highland in a State Division II quarterfinal match Saturday night.
The result, however, marked an end to Tartars' season in the state quarterfinals for the second consecutive year. It also ended a 19-match winning streak that saw Torrance (20-4) win its second consecutive Southern Section Division III championship.
Second-seeded Highland (25-4), seeking its third state championship and first since 1988, will play Torrey Pines in a semifinal match Tuesday.
Torrance right-side hitter Tami Burchard had 19 kills and outside hitter Sunshine Van Wie added 15. LaManda Mounts had a match-high 22 kills and Janice Mounts had 13 for Central Section champion Highland.
Burchard blamed the third-seeded Tartars' difficulties on a long commute on a less-than luxurious charter bus, which took several wrong turns and did not arrive at Highland until 30 minutes before the 7 p.m. start.
"We were supposed to get a nice charter bus and the one that showed up wasn't so nice," Burchard said. "Sometimes we played well and at other times we couldn't. We never settled down."
Torrance Coach Brian Chartier pointed to another factor in the defeat.
"The ride had nothing to do with it, we had plenty of time to warm up," he said. "We weren't playing North Torrance or El Segundo. We got beat by a bigger and better team. I knew what to expect but there wasn't much we could do."
Highland jumped to an 8-2 lead in the first game. The Tartars closed to 12-11 with the help of three consecutive Highland hitting errors. The Scots put the game away with three kills in a row by LaManda Mounts.
Torrance reeled off eight consecutive points to open a 13-7 lead in the second game. The Scots responded by scoring nine of the next 10 points, five coming on kills by LaManda Mounts, who had 17 of her team's 41 kills in the Scots' 15-3, 15-9, 15-7 first-round victory over Escondido.
"That was the critical point when we couldn't hold on to a six-point lead," Chartier said.