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Harvard Makes Fast Recovery After an Early Turnaround

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

In a season of unusual heights for the Harvard-Westlake High girls’ volleyball team, this might have been the most unusual match.

Perhaps the only normalcy was another Wolverine victory, 15-8, 15-3, 15-8, over Lemoore in the Division III State quarterfinals.

For the first time this season, the Wolverines found themselves starting on the north end of their home court.

Then there was the nosebleed suffered by Bettina Korek, courtesy of a close encounter with a volleyball during pre-match serving drills.

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Finally, from the wild-card department, there was this: Basketball superstar Shaquille O’Neal of the Orlando Magic was on campus earlier Saturday, taking a few laps on the school’s track to stay in shape while his injured thumb heals.

But even in victory, there was something lacking from Harvard-Westlake’s attack.

“We played casual,” setter Jenni Kriste said. “We were consistent, but we didn’t play with the same intensity we always have.”

The Wolverines (25-1) played well enough to earn a rematch with Bishop Montgomery, which they defeated in the Southern Section Division II final last Saturday.

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Intensity will have to return to the top-seeded Wolverines, who play host to the Knights on Tuesday night.

“They’re not going to roll over and die for us,” Coach Jess Quiroz said of the Knights, who swept two matches from Harvard-Westlake during the regular season but lost in four games last week.

Harvard-Westlake, which received nine kills from Christine Bohle and seven from Lesley Coben, never came close to losing Saturday’s match. Or even giving up a game.

Fourth-seeded Lemoore (25-5) elected to play the first game on the home side of the court, more unusual than impolite.

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“They wanted to throw us off our game,” Kriste said.

And the Wolverines were somewhat thrown when Korek was unable to start.

Perhaps that is why they found themselves trailing, 5-2, although five hitting errors didn’t help.

After Harvard-Westlake called a timeout, there was a blowout.

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The Wolverines went on a 12-3 run, with Bohle throwing down three kills and Lindsay McNiel adding two on quick sets to the middle.

Bohle had five kills in the second game, and the Wolverines had four aces in the final game.

Taryn Reinhardt had seven kills for the Tigers, who won the Central Section Division III title, but were overwhelmed Saturday.

“We didn’t have an offense at all,” Lemoore Coach Sandi Lowe said. “And that’s not taking anything away from Harvard.”

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The Wolverines promised to bring everything Tuesday.

“We know they want us,” Bohle said, “but we’ll be psyched.”


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