Newport Harbor girls’ volleyball beats CdM for first time since 2009
Newport Harbor High School ended a nearly 12-year drought in girls’ volleyball against its bitterest rival Wednesday evening, romping to a straight-sets triumph over visiting Corona del Mar.
The Sailors (12-5), ranked No. 1 in the CIF Southern Section Division 3 poll, dominated on the serve and at the net in a 25-16, 25-12, 25-19 victory in a Sunset League crossover showdown. The archrivals will meet again Oct. 14 at Corona del Mar in a regular-season finale.
Newport Harbor had dropped the last 12 meetings, 11 of them in best-of-five encounters, dating to Nov. 6, 2009 and had last taken a set against the Sea Kings in a four-set loss on Sept. 16, 2015. Corona del Mar (9-13) had won the past five matches in the series via sweeps and won 24 of the previous 25 sets.
“This is a big moment for our kids,” said Andrew Mabry, who has taken the reins of the program following Dan Glenn‘s retirement from teaching. Glenn’s teams won seven section championships (in 11 title-game appearances) and five state crowns, last winning both in 2009, since he took charge of the program in 1986.
“This [rivalry] is really special ... a real special thing for our community, and I think this was just a really special night, hopefully for both sides,” Mabry said.
Senior outside hitter Emma Fults led the Sailors with nine kills and five digs and junior outside hitter Quinn Perry had eight kills, three blocks and five digs. Senior middle blocker Anne O’Brien added five kills, senior middle blocker and opposite Gabbi Higgs contributed four kills and five blocks, and junior outside hitter Anabel Kotzakov had four kills and two blocks. Senior setter Kate Bland dished out 18 assists.
The Sailors last posted a winning record in 2012, but they’ve got a deep, senior-heavy team that is 7-0 in best-of-five matches, with all five losses in best-of-three tournament games. They went on big tears in all three sets Wednesday, using 13-5 and 12-4 runs to take charge early and late in the opener, going on 8-1 and 10-1 sprees in the second set, then getting an 8-1 roll going early in the third. Three of the runs were built around Fults’ service and two around Perry’s.
“[We] set the tone from the very beginning, and we played a very aggressive match tonight,” Mabry said. “We played very, very hard on defense and really executed very well in transition. If you serve tough, you can create a lot of opportunities to score. It’s something we work on everyday, and the kids did a really, really good job tonight.”
The Sailors’ height advantage was crucial at the net, and CdM struggled too often receiving serves and with its passing and blocking. Senior outside hitter Gwyneth Pouliot led the Sea Kings with four kills and three digs, and junior opposite and setter Reese Olson served four aces, three of them fueling a 5-0 run that trimmed their first-set deficit to 13-12 before Newport Harbor scored 12 of the last 16 points.
“It was a tough battle for us,” said first-year coach Bailey Humes, whose team has been hampered by injuries this season and was missing four “key players” on Wednesday. “We played as well as we could, and we put up a good fight. We have some things we want to work on, and we have another shot at them coming up, and go get them next time.”
Both teams open league play Friday. Corona del Mar — seeking its third straight Surf League title since the Sunset League was split into two divisions — visits Laguna Beach, and Newport Harbor plays at Marina in a Wave League opener.
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