NEWPORT BEACH — Already without much depth at middle blocker, the Newport Harbor High girls' volleyball team found itself down an outside hitter as Tuesday's CIF Southern Section Division I-AA playoff match went on.
Senior Sarah Buckingham was sick, gave it a go in the first set against Dana Hills but couldn't continue.
Everything was fine for the Sailors. Junior Allison Schelin and sophomore Tristen Thompson stepped right in and played well, helping Newport Harbor earn a 20-25, 25-17, 25-18, 25-17 first-round win at home.
"They both did a nice job in her place, but both of them have played all year," Coach Dan Glenn said. "This group, I play a lot of kids."
No. 4-seeded Newport Harbor (21-11), the defending Division I-AA and state Division I champion, will face Long Beach Wilson in the second round. The Bruins defeated Buena in the first round Tuesday, also in four sets.
The site of Thursday's match will be determined this morning by coin flip.
Newport Harbor proved resourceful against Dana Hills (16-10), the No. 2 representative out of the South Coast League. After a season-ending injury to Alex Holbrook and with senior Renny Niebuhr out with an ankle injury, freshman Carolyn Bockrath has been starting recently for the Tars.
Bockrath did more than just start Tuesday. She finished with a team-high 13 kills.
"She's pretty much our last middle," said senior outside hitter Maddy Brown, who finished with nine kills. "She's all we've got, but she did really good tonight. She got up on every ball, and that's what we ask of her."
Senior Lauren Demos had 10 kills and junior setter Cinnamon Sary added five kills, 22 assists and seven blocks. Sophomore Hunter Jennings had seven digs for the Sailors, who were surprised in the opening set.
They couldn't hold a 16-11 lead, losing the set when Dana Hills senior Carys Greer finished it off with back-to-back service aces.
But the Sailors responded, winning the second set easily.
The third set was back and forth, but down 11-9, the Sailors went on two mini-runs behind the serving of Tatum Norton and Emma Lidington, grabbing a 20-14 lead.
Newport took an 8-2 lead in the fourth set and, though the Dolphins pulled within 10-9, the visitors couldn't take the lead.
Senior outside hitter Taylor Arizobal led Dana Hills with a match-high 14 kills.
"It was a great match for us, a great win," Glenn said. "We had to weather the storm, and we did. Fortunately, our serving and our defense came through for us."
The Sailors have played Wilson once before this year, narrowly defeating the Bruins in a pool-play match at the Durango Tournament in Las Vegas.
"They've got a great setter," Glenn said. "They're not as big and physical as they've been, but they're a good, solid team. We're going to have to play well to win."