NEWPORT BEACH — To the surprise of Coach Dan Glenn, a banner with the No. 25 hung inside the Newport Harbor High gym Tuesday night. The number represented how many years Glenn has coached and taught at the school.
Glenn said he felt honored by the tribute and then added that the program is all about his players and not him. The Sailors honored him on the court by opening Sunset League play with a win at home.
Newport Harbor swept Marina, 25-15, 25-16, 25-16, showing no signs of a letdown before its upcoming showdown with Los Alamitos.
The Sailors (12-6) travel to play the rival Griffins (17-4) on Thursday.
The match features two programs that shared the league crown last season and played in the CIF Southern Section Division I-AA title match, which the Sailors won outright and gave Glenn his seventh section girls' title at the school.
Newport Harbor and Los Alamitos have already met four times in tournament play this season, most recently at the Durango Classic on Sept 25.
The Griffins, ranked No. 3 in the Division I-AA coaches' poll, beat the seventh-ranked Sailors in Las Vegas, making it two straight victories against Newport Harbor. Los Alamitos' previous victory against the Sailors came in the finale at the Dave Mohs Tournament on Sept. 20.
Glenn likes the Sailors' chances against the Griffins after how they performed against Marina (7-6).
"We did a really nice job. Everybody that went in kind of stepped up," Glenn said. "[Setter] Cinnamon [Sary] is just playing really well right now and that kind of makes everybody real comfortable."
Newport Harbor will be out of its comfort zone in its next two league matches.
After playing Los Alamitos, the Sailors are at Edison, ranked eighth. The Sailors have not faced the Chargers in any tournament, but they have seen them in action.
Edison is an unknown as far as matchups for Newport Harbor. Los Alamitos is not.
The Griffins defeated Newport Harbor, 25-16, 23-25, 25-22, in the quarterfinals of the Durango Classic, knocking the Sailors into the consolation round. Newport Harbor went on to place 15th at the two-day national tournament and Los Alamitos finished ahead in seventh place.
What matters is which team claims the league title. Whoever prevails Thursday will have a leg up in league.
All Glenn was concerned with Tuesday was that his Sailors are 1-0 in league. They competed against a well-coached Marina team.
The key behind Newport Harbor's success was putting pressure on the Vikings. From the onset, the Sailors attacked and took Marina out of its game plan.
Glenn said it was nice to see because Newport Harbor has not always played that way.
"They're one of those teams you can't make mistakes against," Marina Coach Kilisi Vailuu said.
The Vikings had no answers for Newport Harbor middle blocker Alex Holbrook. The junior led the Sailors with nine kills.
Sary also set Tristen Thompson (six kills), Maddy Brown (five kills), and Lauren Demos (four kills) up for shots. Sary finished with 19 assists, and she hammered six kills to go with three blocks and three digs.
Glenn is hoping the play carries over to the next vital back-to-back league matches on the road.
"Hopefully, we can sneak [a win out of] one of those," said Glenn, who in his 25 years at Newport Harbor has won his share of big matches.