On the mend

Mike Sciacca

Joy Henderson has been sidelined since the beginning of the 2002

prep sports season, but nothing -- nothing -- the Laguna Beach High

sophomore said could keep her from joining her Breakers teammates


this weekend.

The Laguna Beach girls’ volleyball program left en masse Thursday

for the bright lights and big promises of the city of Las Vegas.

Henderson, who has sat out the Breakers first four games of the


season because of an ankle injury, will be back in the starting

lineup this weekend when Laguna Beach participates in the Durango Las

Vegas Tournament, which begins today with pool play.

“I am so excited to be making this trip and to be playing again,”

Henderson said. “This will be a great bonding experience for our


The Breakers might use the getaway weekend to kick start their



The young Laguna Beach squad has lost its first four matches of

the season, most recently, a five-game loss on Tuesday to visiting


Henderson, a 5-foot-7 outside hitter, has been all but relegated

to the bench during that time, forced to play the role of cheerleader

to her teammates, who were taking on an extremely difficult

non-league schedule without her services.

That schedule, in addition to Tuesday’s loss to 2001 Division IIA


runner-up Irvine, included the likes of Division IIAA runner-up

Newport Harbor, Division IA runner-up El Toro, and Division IIA

quarterfinalist Santa Margarita.

The 15-year-old, who played sparingly in a Sept. 19 loss to Santa Margarita, injured her right ankle during practice right before the

start of the school year.

She remembers coming down hard on a teammate’s foot, leaving her

with a very bad sprain.

Henderson was entering the 2002 season as the only returning

player who started much of the 2001 season on a Laguna Beach team

that featured two future NCAA Division I players and was runner up to

the Division IVAA crown.

Chloe Merz, now a junior, was the only other returner with varsity


“I just landed awkwardly and as soon as I came down, I knew it was

bad,” recalled Henderson, who has undergone physical therapy three

times a week since the accident. “I was told that I’d be out of

action from anywhere between two weeks to a month, and it’s now going

on a month.

“It has killed me to be sitting on the bench. I felt completely

helpless. I was doing a lot of cheer-leading, hoping to help out the

team the only way I could. I’m glad to be back.”

Henderson is returning to action today in a Durango Las Vegas

Tournament that Breakers coach Curt Hanson says is “quite


Among the teams in Laguna Beach’s pool is Mater Dei, the defending

Division IIA champion.

“We’re 0-4 and struggling right now, and heading into a very, very

tough tournament,” Hanson said.

Henderson sees the turnaround to the season being team unity.

“I think we’ve struggled a bit because we are playing as

individuals,” she said. “The key for us, I think, is that we need to

play together as a team. This road trip will be good in bringing us