Hannah Phair was unable to play in a couple of big matches for the Edison High girls' volleyball team, one early in the season and one in the thick of it.
Each time she was away, Phair said she felt awful about it because her team was playing to get to a championship or to get back in the hunt for one.
She really had no control over both absences. The Chargers understood why Phair, the Daily Pilot Girls' Volleyball Dream Team Player of the Year, was out.
First, a family wedding in Alabama that Edison knew about in advance forced Phair to leave her team early in Hawaii. She missed the semifinals of the Ann Kang Invitational in August, and the Chargers lost to Manhattan Beach Mira Costa.
Two months later, with the Chargers needing a win at Huntington Beach to move into a first-place tie in the Sunset League, Phair's health knocked her out of action. She said she suffered a concussion in practice, and a day later, she came down with strep throat.
Edison Coach Matt Skolnik said he told Phair to stay home and rest. He also didn't want Phair around to get her teammates sick. Too much was at stake.
Nothing kept Phair from going to the match.
Phair went and sat as far as way as she could from the court. She found a place in the corner of the bleachers. From the last row, Phair rooted for the Chargers, and they beat the rival Oilers on that Oct. 13 night without her in five sets.
"It was so much fun," Phair said of watching the Chargers pull out a 18-25, 25-22, 25-19, 19-25, 15-11 win, as the result allowed them to finish atop the league with Huntington Beach at 9-1. "I was jumping up and down … and freaking out up there."
Six weeks later, after both schools exited in the quarterfinals of the CIF Southern Section Division 1 playoffs, the Chargers and Oilers met again. The contest took place at Huntington Beach, two days after Thanksgiving, and this time they wouldn't be sharing anything.
On the line was a trip to the CIF State Division I final, and Phair was healthy. She left the clapping to the fans in the gym. She came ready to make a difference as an outside hitter.
The 5-foot-10 senior did not let the third matchup between Edison and Huntington Beach go the distance. In the CIF State Southern California Regional Division I final, Phair put away the Oilers in three sets.
Phair finished with a match-high 17 kills in the Chargers' 25-18, 25-21, 25-13 win, leading Edison to its first state finals appearance.
"Playing them again was like, 'This is my turn. I get to win,' " Phair said. "It was cool to beat them in three."
Phair helped the Chargers (36-8) sweep four of their five opponents during the program's historic run in the state tournament.
Edison capped it off by beating Menlo-Atherton, 25-20, 25-21, 25-18, at Santiago Canyon College to win its first state crown. Phair, who is heading to UCLA to play women's sand volleyball, led Edison with 13 kills in the finale.
For the season, Phair finished with 376 kills, 286 digs and 47 service aces, earning her All-CIF Southern Section Division 1, first-team All-Orange County and first-team All-Sunset League accolades.
"We always knew what we were going to get from Hannah. She gave 100% of herself every day," Skolnik said. "Having someone as steady and reliable as Hannah helps to put the team at ease. It's great to know that you always have someone to get you out of a jam.
"She showed a lot about her dedication to the team when she came to the Huntington Beach match. She was recovering from a concussion that she sustained in practice earlier that week and suffering from strep throat. She should have been at home in bed, but it was great to see her at the match supporting her team."
Below are the rest of the members on this year's Dream Team:
Coach of the Year
In his third season in charge, Skolnik guided the Chargers to a historic year. Edison swept Menlo-Atherton, 25-20, 25-21, 25-18, in the CIF State Division I finals at Santiago Canyon College, claiming the program's first state championship. The Chargers also finished atop the Sunset League at 9-1 with Huntington Beach, sharing their first league title in five years. This year the rival schools split their two league contests, and in the CIF State Southern California Regional Division I finals, Skolnik's Chargers swept host Huntington Beach, 25-18, 25-21, 25-13, to make their first trip to the state finale. Skolnik, the All-Orange County Coach of the Year, led the Chargers to a 36-8 overall record, an Edison single-season record for victories.
OH | Huntington Beach | Sr.
Sanchez led the Oilers to a share of the Sunset League title and a trip to the CIF State Southern California Regional Division I finals. The 5-foot-10 senior outside hitter split the Sunset League MVP award and earned All-CIF Southern Section Division 1 and All-Orange County first team accolades. Sanchez, who is heading to UCLA to play women's sand volleyball, finished with 372 kills and 212 digs.
OH | Edison | Sr.
Dennison played a vital role to bringing the Chargers their first CIF State Division I crown in the program's history. The outside hitter averaged 10.6 kills per match during the state playoffs, four of the five contests ended in sweeps. The senior made the All-Sunset League first team and All-Orange County third team, totaling an area-best 424 kills, to go with 231 digs and 52 service aces.
MB | Corona del Mar | So.
After helping the U.S. youth national team to a runner-up finish at the NORCECA Under-18 Continental Championships in Puerto Rico, Kipp lifted the Sea Kings to their 11th consecutive outright Pacific Coast League title. Kipp, a member of the All-Orange County fourth team and All-Pacific Coast League first team, recorded 235 kills, 26 blocks and 33 aces. At 6-foot-4, the sophomore is a highly sought-after recruit.
MB | Huntington Beach | Sr.
Jackson made the Oilers a strong defensive team with her 6-foot-2 size and read-blocking ability. The senior middle blocker was named to the All-Orange County and All-Sunset League first teams. She produced 229 kills, 111 blocks and a .618 hitting percentage. Jackson, bound for UC San Diego to play women's indoor volleyball, made the all-tournament teams at the Lakewood Molten Classic and La Jolla Coastal Classic.
OPP | Huntington Beach | Jr.
Kim was a big reason why the Oilers won the Sunset League championship for the third straight year. Huntington Beach deployed two opposites on the court at the same time, and one of those was Kim, a 5-foot-11 junior committed to play women's indoor volleyball at Sacred Heart University in Connecticut. Kim was a first-team All-Sunset League selection and an All-Orange County honorable mention.
S | Edison | Jr.
Sparks quarterbacked the Chargers to their most successful run in the CIF State playoffs. The junior setter has committed to Pepperdine for both women's indoor and sand volleyball. At Edison, she had an array of weapons and she got everyone involved, amassing an area- and school-best 1,055 assists. Sparks, who had 149 kills and 262 digs, garnered first-team All-Sunset League and second-team All-Orange County honors.
L | Edison | Sr.
Dennison covered a lot of the court for the Chargers, earning her a share of the Sunset League MVP award. The senior's 612 digs are an Edison single-season record and she finished her career with a school-best 1,380 digs. Dennison, who also had 42 aces and 100 assists, made the All-Orange County second team. Dennison is going to Texas Christian University to play women's indoor volleyball.
U | Corona del Mar | Jr.
Humphreys was an all-around player for the Sea Kings, striking the ball as an opposite and passing it as a setter. Humphreys, who is committed to the USC women's indoor volleyball program, was one of CdM's setters in its 6-2 offense. She received first-team All-Pacific Coast League and fourth-team All-Orange County laurels for finishing with 252 kills, 553 assists, 178 digs, 35 aces and a .385 hitting percentage.
Position, Name, School, Year
OH Jamie Dailey, Sage Hill, Sr.
OH Lexi McKeown, Laguna Beach, Jr.
MB Kristin Austin, Edison, Jr.
MB Maggie Gunther, Edison, So.
OPP Anna Carroll, Huntington Beach, Sr.
S Jade Blevins, Sage Hill, Jr.
L Ashley Stevens, Huntington Beach, Sr.