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Santa Margarita Falls to Top-Ranked St. Francis

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Mountain View St. Francis proved why it is the top-ranked girls’ volleyball team in the state Saturday, thrashing Santa Margarita in three games in the Division II final.

Stacy Millichap had 17 kills and Niki Hartley had 14 to lead the Lancers to a convincing victory, 15-12, 15-5, 15-3, in the state Division II final Saturday at Cypress College.

“The girls played incredibly well,” St. Francis Coach Dave Gambelin said. “They performed better than any team I’ve ever had here. It must have been frustrating for Santa Margarita because our girls never let the ball hit the floor.”

St. Francis’ relentless defense keyed the victory for the Lancers, who produced their third state title in five appearances.

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Desiree Rook had 10 kills and 20 digs. Hartley had 14 digs and Anna Kleinsorge had two blocks for the Lancers (33-3).

In the first game, Sarah Ballog blocked for a point and a 12-11 lead for Santa Margarita (22-6). But it went downhill for the Eagles from there.

A passing error and two hitting errors gave the Lancers two points and a side out for a match point at 14-12, then Millichap tipped for a kill down the line and St. Francis won the first game, 15-12.

St. Francis proceeded to race to a 7-3 lead in the second game before putting it away, 15-5, and another burst put it ahead, 9-2, in the third game. Millichap eventually set up match point with a kill, 14-3, and the Lancers won the title after a setting error.

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Although it was a disappointing finish for Santa Margarita, which was appearing in its first state final, it wasn’t too shabby for a team that didn’t even win its league.

Santa Margarita finished second to Newport Harbor in the Sea View League. However, that league did boast three section champions.

Newport Harbor won the Southern Section Division I-AA title, Corona del Mar won the Division III-AA title and Santa Margarita won the Division II-A championship, its second consecutive title and Corona del Mar won the Division III-AA title.

And the Eagles began the season playing without starting setter Meghan Clarke, who suffered a severe knee injury that sidelined her the entire season.

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So Anna Mosich and Suzanne Sarkees stepped in and helped Santa Margarita advance to Saturday’s final and there, senior middle blocker Kiki Maroutsos played with her right arm completely taped, because of tendinitis in her triceps.

“It was fine,” Maroutsos said. “I wasn’t even thinking about it when I was playing.”

Although Maroutsos struggled, notching only five kills, Michelle Chambers (15 kills) and Lauren Heri (10 kills) tried to pick up the slack on offense.

“We just fought as hard as we could,” said Santa Margarita senior Linda McCullagh, who had 17 digs.

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And that effort made Santa Margarita Coach Eddie Rapp smile.

“They just played great defense against us and we came out a little short,” Rapp said. “But we left everything out there on the court.”


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