Sailors can't finish

HUNTINGTON BEACH — Coach Dan Glenn went into Newport Harbor High's toughest two-match stretch in the first half of Sunset League play thinking he'd be fine with a split.

When the Sailors stole the girls' volleyball match at Los Alamitos last week, Glenn wanted to be greedy.

"Once you get that first one, you want to see if you can get them both," Glenn said.

The Sailors had their chances to pick up a big road victory at Edison Tuesday night. Three times in the fourth set they had match point and each time they came up short as the Chargers forced a decisive fifth set.

Newport Harbor's second five-set match in league turned out different from the first.

The Chargers came back and closed things out with seven straight serves to beat the Sailors, 23-25, 25-20, 18-25, 29-27, 15-10, and earn their first victory against Newport Harbor in six years.

The win catapulted the Chargers (16-5, 3-0 in league), ranked No. 8 in the CIF Southern Section Division I-AA coaches' poll, into sole possession of first place in league. The fifth-ranked Sailors suffered their first league loss and they surely missed their best hitter, Alex Holbrook, down the stretch.

The 6-foot junior is out for the season after suffering a right knee injury against Los Alamitos. The Sailors (13-7, 2-1) rallied without Holbrook in that match and prevailed.

Newport Harbor tried to win again without Holbrook. The middle blocker watched from the bench, where she sat next to Glenn and the rest of the coaching staff.

With the Sailors up, 2-1, in sets and an opportunity to seal the deal late, Holbrook and Glenn saw Newport Harbor go down.

"It's a tough way," Glenn said of the style in which the Sailors lost. "We just kind of couldn't get a sideout. They were in a good rotation and we got kind of stuck a little bit."

Allie Cook served strong at the end for Edison.

The final two serves resulted in service aces, giving the Chargers momentum heading into their showdown at sixth-ranked Los Alamitos (18-5, 2-1) Thursday.

Edison has already defeated Newport Harbor, one of the two teams sharing the league crown last season. Next is a shot to knock down the other defending champion, Los Alamitos.

The Chargers are a well-balanced team, with Cassie Strickland (21 kills), Megan Reza (11 kills), Avae Masaniai (10 kills) and Delaney McCraney (10 kills) hammering shots.

Reza and Strickland, a University of Washington commit, led the charge late. Reza sparked Edison's 8-0 run after trailing Newport Harbor, 10-7, in Game 5. Strickland slammed one ball down during the spurt that put away the visitors.

"I just like that they finished strong. We've had some issues just not finishing," said Edison Coach Trent Jackson, who was at the helm the previous time the Chargers defeated the Sailors. "The last time we beat them was in the semifinals of [the] CIF [Southern Section Division II-AA playoffs in 2004]."

A win against powerhouse Newport Harbor is something Jackson clearly remembers. The year in which it happened was a little fuzzy to Jackson, who needed help from his staff to nail it down.

One assistant pointed to a banner in the gym. Six years ago, Edison went on to claim a section title and it has the talent this season to make a run at another championship.

"They're a real good team," said Glenn, who saw outside hitters Maddy Brown and Sarah Buckingham lead the Sailors with 13 kills each and setter Cinnamon Sary finish with 25 assists, 10 kills, 10 digs and six blocks. "We came on the road and we played a really good team and we played them tough. We were a couple of swings away from winning the match in the fourth game.

"We just kind of let that one slip away."

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