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PREP VOLLEYBALL / SOUTHERN SECTION PLAYOFFS : Despite Mishaps, Mater Dei Beats Edison

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Bad luck has tried, but so far misfortune hasn’t foiled the Mater Dei girls’ volleyball team.

Mater Dei defeated Edison, 15-8, 15-5, 15-12, Tuesday in a wild-card game of the Southern Section Division I playoffs at Mater Dei.

Mater Dei, which was ranked as high as No. 4 in the nation at one point this season, finished in a three-way tie for first place in the South Coast League with Dana Hills and San Clemente. But Mater Dei lost two coin flips and was seeded third in the league for playoffs, meaning it had to play the wild-card game.

Compounding matters, Monarch starting setter Laurie Layton sliced her hand in the shower in the Mater Dei girls’ locker room Thursday and required stitches.

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But the Monarchs (18-2) seemed unfazed by the bizarre happenstance. Roberta Gehlke had 20 kills and Nicole Noya served eight aces to lead Mater Dei past Edison to Thursday’s first round, when it will travel to Westlake Village Westlake (19-3).

The Monarchs broke out a 7-7 tie in the first game, quickly gathered momentum and easily won the first two games. Even though Edison led, 12-10, in the third game, Mater Dei never looked worried and soon scored on two Edison errors to tie it.

After Anna Geber and Lauren Warner each hit a kill to bring up match point, Gehlke sent the ball crashing through the block of Timree Gold and Kari Hogancamp to win it.

The decisive victory came after much soul-searching recently by the Monarchs. Mater Dei, which starts five seniors, suffered an untimely loss to Dana Hills on Oct. 19 that precluded the Monarchs from claiming the league title outright.

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“It pretty much hit us hard. We had to sit down and say how we had to come together as a team and stop playing as individuals or we’re going to get kicked,” said Gehlke, who plans to attend UC Santa Barbara next year. “Right now, we’re giving it everything we have because we know that any game could be our last.”

Edison (11-6) was missing starting middle blocker Kelli Liniger, a 6-foot senior who did not play because of illness. Stephanie Fike had 10 kills to lead the Chargers.

In other Division I wild-card matches:

Irvine 3, El Segundo 0--Kelly Webb had 15 kills for visiting Irvine, which won, 15-8, 15-3, 15-10. Irvine (11-7) will play at Goleta Dos Pueblos Thursday.

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In Division II:

Garden Grove 3, Bell Gardens 2--Yesenia Ocampo had 14 kills for visiting Garden Grove, which won, 10-15, 7-15, 15-7, 15-7, 15-4. Garden Grove (9-7) plays at Cypress, the Empire League champion, Thursday.

In Division III:

Katella 3, Diamond Bar 0--Kellie Alva had 17 kills and Sylvia Panak 29 assists for Katella (12-4), which won, 15-13, 15-5, 15-3, in the wild-card round. The Knights play at Rancho Cucamonga Alta Loma Thursday.

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In Division IV:

Brea Olinda 3, Moreno Valley Valley View 0--Beth Cinderey had 19 kills, Mara Smith had 15 and Kelly Kleinsmith had 40 assists for Brea Olinda (11-6), which won, 15-5, 15-10, 16-14. Brea plays at Norwalk Glenn Thursday.

In Division V:

St. Margaret’s 3, Montebello Cantwell Sacred Heart 0--The Tartans (14-3) recorded 12 aces, including three each by Stefanie Canright and January Olds, in a 15-10, 15-5, 15-1 wild-card round victory.

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Shay Trette had seven kills for St. Margaret’s, which plays at Downey Pius X Thursday.


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