What Brown can do for Tars

Maybe one day, Maddy Brown will write for a newspaper.

The senior at Newport Harbor High wants to be a sportswriter. She is a huge sports fan and she enjoys writing.

No one has published Brown's work yet. For now, other journalists will chronicle her and her girls' volleyball team.

Expect to read a lot about Brown and the Sailors this fall.

The expectations are set high once again at Newport Harbor. That never changes with Dan Glenn as the coach.

Glenn enters his 25th year with the Sailors and he believes Newport Harbor has what it takes to return to the top. The Sailors won the Sunset League title, the CIF Southern Section Division I-AA title and the CIF State Division I title last season.

Three players instrumental to the success have graduated. Middle blocker Katey Thompson is at UC Santa Barbara, outside hitter Kirby Burnham at USC and libero Kelly Heenan at UCSB.

The spotlight is now on Brown, a 6-foot outside hitter.

"Maddy's going to have a different role," said Glenn, whose team is ranked No. 36 in the country by PrepVolleyball.com. "She's not the kind of featured hitter. She's really good at being the piece of the puzzle. She is going to be more of a go-to girl for us. It's a different deal. It's not that she can't do it. She's great defensively. She can pass. She has a quick arm. She's very calm. She's extremely competitive.

"She's going to have to step up because we lost a lot in Katey and Kirby, who were two of the best hitters in the state last year. Hopefully, Maddy can do it."

Brown plans to deliver the way she normally does, by example.

She said she learned a lot from the seniors last season, from how to compete, to how to be accountable for your actions, to how to get along.

Before the Sailors claimed their seventh section crown and fifth state crown under Glenn, they needed to be there for each other. The Sailors grew closer toward the end of the regular season, before they closed out the final two months with 11 straight victories.

This season's group began to bond in August. The process started while at the Ann Kang Invitational in Hawaii, where the Sailors played more than competitive volleyball for a good week.

"The tournament is only for three days and on the other days we ran Diamond Head, hung out, went to the beach, talked about the upcoming season, and had fun," said Brown, who after graduating from Newport Harbor plans to play at an Ivy League school. "We were definitely motivated to play well."

Whenever the Sailors get the chance to face Sunset League rival Los Alamitos, it fires them up. Newport Harbor played the Griffins twice in Honolulu.

Los Alamitos, with standout outside hitter Jane Croson, entered the tournament ranked third in the country. By the end of it, the Griffins were not the third-best team at the prestigious event. Newport Harbor made sure of it by defeating Los Alamitos in the third-place match.

The finish gave the Sailors momentum heading into a season in which they will play a brutal schedule. Newport Harbor has Los Alamitos and Huntington Beach (ranked No. 76 in the nation) each twice in league, and nonleague matches against Back Bay rival Corona del Mar (No. 38), Long Beach Poly (No. 68), and Laguna Beach. The Sailors will also be at the Dave Mohs Tournament, Las Vegas Durango Classic and Santa Barbara Tournament of Champions.

The tough competition is what Brown prefers. Brown, a second-team all-league performer last season, and Cinnamon Sary, who emerged last year as a sophomore setter and earned first-team all-league honors, lead the Sailors.

Junior Alexandra Holbrook will start at middle blocker and Glenn is counting on senior outside hitter Sarah Buckingham, senior Lauren Demos and senior libero Tabitha Goff to contribute.

"A lot of people are going to underestimate us because of what we lost," Brown said, "but we're going to be a strong team again."

A team-by-team breakdown follows:

CORONA DEL MAR

Coach: Darryl Gan (third year)

2009 record: 30-7, 10-0 in the Pacific Coast League (first place)

Returning starters: MB Claire Ham (Sr.); OH Morgan Boukather (Sr.); OH Hailey Senske (Sr.); L Catherine Sullivan (Sr.); L Katelyn Baker (Sr.)

Key newcomers: S Nikki Borchard (Jr.); OPP-S Kelsey Humphreys (So.); MB Britton Taylor (Jr.); S Megan Griffin (Sr.)

Key dates: at Mater Dei, Sept. 9; Huntington Beach (home) Sept. 15; at Dave Mohs Tournament, Sept. 17-18, 20; Laguna Beach (home), Sept. 28; Mother McAuley ASICS Challenge in Chicago, Oct. 1-2; at Santa Barbara Tournament of Champions, Oct. 29-30; Newport Harbor (home), Nov. 5

Outlook: The Sea Kings enter the season ranked No. 38 in the country by PrepVolleyball.com. CdM is primed to claim its fifth straight outright Pacific Coast League title and reach the CIF Southern Section championship match for the third consecutive year. Reaching both goals might be harder because gone is setter Madie Smith, a two-time All-CIF Southern Section Division II-AA pick, and Jim Downey, the team's co-coach the past two seasons. Smith is at UCLA and Gan said Downey moved to Indiana. The Sea Kings welcome two new schools, Woodbridge and Northwood, to the league. Gan said the additions bolster the league. Boukather, a Stanford-bound outside hitter, and Claire Ham, an Auburn-bound middle blocker, lead the Sea Kings, who move up to Division I-A. Gan expects CdM to be just as good as last year or better.

COSTA MESA

Coach: Jeff Weihert (first year)

2009 record: 4-13, 2-6 in the Orange Coast League (fourth)

Returning starters: OH Alex Krohnfeldt (Sr.); OH Shannon Walthers (Sr.); MB Devan Davison (Sr.); S Sami Feinstein (Sr.); MB Annie Sturm (Sr.); L Nikki Lether (Sr.)

Key newcomers: OPP Amanda Moore (Fr.); MB Molly Settles (So.); MB-OPP Crystal Rubright (Sr.)

Key dates: at El Dorado, Sept. 9; at Villa Park, Sept. 15; at Laguna Hills, Sept. 19; Laguna Beach (home), Oct. 14; at Estancia, Oct. 19; Estancia (home), Nov. 3

Outlook: Weihert is the Mustangs' seventh coach in 10 years. Weihert, a club coach and director of the SWAT Team Volleyball Club in Anaheim, replaces Jim Mercer, who lasted one season. Costa Mesa has struggled in the Orange Coast League, failing to record a winning season in the first four years of the league. With Saddleback joining the league this season, the Mustangs have a shot to make the playoffs out of the six-team league. The Mustangs haven't defeated crosstown rival Estancia in the previous 12 meetings. Weihert, who has been the head coach at Villa Park, Brea Olinda and Orange in the past, is aware of the Mustangs' past woes. He said he plans to stay at Costa Mesa for a while and turn the program into a winner.

ESTANCIA

Coach: Paul Munoz (first year)

2009 record: 15-10, 4-4 in the Orange Coast League (third)

Returning starters: OH Lily McLendon (Sr.); MB Lauren Peterson (Jr.)

Key newcomers: OPP Gianna Jason (So.); S Ilene Umansky (So.).

Key dates: at University Tournament, Sept. 10-11; at Dave Mohs Tournament, Sept. 17-18, 20; Laguna Beach (home), Oct. 5; Costa Mesa (home), Oct. 19; at Laguna Beach, Oct. 21; at Costa Mesa, Nov. 3

Outlook: Munoz takes over at Estancia after former coach Jim Huffman helped the girls earn CIF Southern Section playoff berths out of the Orange Coast League the last four years. The 27-year-old Munoz said he decided to coach the girls after coaching the boys at Estancia in the spring because he wants to give back to a sport that allowed him to play libero at Long Beach State, join the U.S. national team and play professionally overseas. Munoz understands the Eagles have a long way to go before contending in league and the playoffs. The Eagles are once again in the CIF Southern Section Division I-A, the second biggest playoff format. Munoz plans to introduce players to yoga. McLendon returns after recording 311 kills and receiving first-team all-league honors.

NEWPORT HARBOR

Coach: Dan Glenn (25th year)

2009 record: 33-6, 9-1 in the Sunset League (tied for first)

Returning starters: S-OPP Cinnamon Sary (Jr.); OH Maddy Brown (Sr.); MB Alexandra Holbrook (Jr.)

Key newcomers: OH Sarah Buckingham (Sr.); MB Lauren Demos (Sr.); DS Tabitha Goff (Sr.); Tatum Norton (Jr.)

Key dates: at Laguna Beach, Sept. 14; at Dave Mohs Tournament, Sept. 17-18, 20; at La Vegas Durango Classic, Sept. 24-25; at Los Alamitos, Oct. 7; at Edison, Oct. 12; Los Alamitos (home), Oct. 26; Edison (home), Oct. 28; at Santa Barbara Tournament of Champions, Oct. 29-30; at Corona del Mar, Nov. 5

Outlook: The Sailors won every championship last year, Sunset League, CIF Southern Section Division I-AA and CIF State Division I. Doing it all over again is what drives Glenn and he believes he has the players, Brown and Sary, to lead the way. The Sailors, ranked No. 36 in the nation by PrepVolleyball.com are going to battle third-ranked Los Alamitos again for league and section supremacy. The rivals met twice in August at the Ann Kang Invitational in Hawaii, where the Griffins won the first meeting and then the Sailors took the second one to finish third at the prestigious event. Glenn said his team played OK, never living up to the top-seed billing. Newport Harbor lost three standouts in Katey Thompson (UC Santa Barbara), Kirby Burnham (USC) and Kelly Heenan (UCSB) to graduation.

SAGE HILL

Coach: Dan Thomassen (seventh year)

2009 record: 15-11, 8-2 in the Academy League (second)

Returning starters: MB Zoe Kreitenberg (Jr.); OH Natasha Sakraney (Jr.)

Key newcomers: OH Maggie Danner (So.); OPP-S Alayna Lewis (Jr.); OH Brenna Van Hoogenstyn (So.); OPP Sophie Gordon (Fr.); MB Lizzie Geocaris (So.); L Elisa Lee (Sr.)

Key dates: Calvary Murrieta (home), Sept. 9; at Beckman, Sept. 14; JSerra (home), Sept. 15; at St. Margaret's, Oct. 21; St. Margaret's (home), Nov. 4

Outlook: The Lightning are young with only one senior in Lee, but Thomassen is optimistic about his team's chances to upset rival St. Margaret's for the Academy League title. The only two setbacks in league last year were to St. Margaret's. Sage Hill last won league two years ago, when the Lightning shared it with the Tartans. The Lightning lost outside hitter Lindsey Kish, a four-time first-team all-league selection, to graduation. Thomassen is counting on Kreitenberg, Sakraney and Maggie Danner, the sister of 2009 graduate Tierney Danner, to produce. Sage has qualified for the quarterfinals of the CIF Southern Section Division IV-AA playoffs the past two seasons.

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