HUNTINGTON BEACH — Newport Harbor High became the first girls' volleyball team to knock off Los Alamitos in a set at the three-day Dave Mohs Tournament.
The Sailors fell short of winning another over their rivals on Monday night.
Los Alamitos defended its Dave Mohs title by defeating rival Newport Harbor, 25-23, 12-25, 18-16, in a best-of-three format at Edison High.
The Griffins claimed their second straight crown at the event featuring Orange County's top programs. They accomplished the feat without their best player.
Coach Dave Huber said Jane Croson violated school rules and no longer is on the team. She showed up to the finale in jeans and a hooded sweater.
The 6-foot outside hitter bound for the University of Hawaii cannot play for Los Alamitos, but that did not stop her from attending her school's big match.
The title match featured Sunset League foes and the top two ranked teams in the CIF Southern Section Division I-AA coaches' poll.
Croson brought a sign into the gym, supporting the No. 2-ranked Griffins (12-1). They felt her presence against the top-ranked Sailors (7-2).
"It's really comforting to know that she's there in the stands and watching us and cheering us on," Los Alamitos middle blocker Halli Amaro said.
"I felt tonight we really did show people that just because we don't have the No. 1 player on our team [it] doesn't mean that we're not [good]. We came together when it mattered most."
In the decisive third set, after dropping their first set in seven matches at the tournament, Los Alamitos fought back.
The Griffins and Sailors last season shared the league title, but it was Newport Harbor besting Los Alamitos in five games in the section championship. In August, they split matches at the Ann Kang Invitational in Hawaii.
Monday was just as close as their previous meetings. Eleven times the score was even in Game 3.
Los Alamitos tried to run away at the start of the third set, going ahead 3-1 with the University of Arizona-bound Amaro hammering a shot. Then it was the Sailors taking a 9-6 lead after junior Alex Holbrook recorded a service ace.
Los Alamitos called a timeout. When play resumed, the set went back and forth, one shot going off a Newport Harbor player's head and a Los Alamitos player allowing a serve to land to her left, without attempting to pass the ball.
With the score tied, 13-13, Amaro elevated her play down the stretch. She earned the tournament's MVP award. Three times, her kills gave Los Alamitos the lead.
At match point, with the Griffins up, 16-15, Newport Harbor Coach Dan Glenn called a timeout. It was his version of trying to ice the server.
It worked for Newport Harbor, as it was able to set up its attack. Junior Cinnamon Sary evened the score with her fifth kill of the match. With Holbrook serving, things looked good for the Tars
The Griffins answered and took a 17-16 lead. On their third match-point opportunity, they finished the job.
Newport Harbor outside hitter Maddy Brown swung away, trying to add to her team-high 11 kills, only to see 6-foot-1 middle blockers Crissy Jones and Katie McMahon stuff her shot at the net. Match over. Los Alamitos celebrated its second straight Dave Mohs title. Last year, the Griffins beat Corona del Mar.
Glenn credited Los Alamitos.
"They've got a lot of good players and Dave's a really good coach," Glenn said. "They only lost one game all tournament."