NEWPORT BEACH — One San Clemente High volleyball player walked onto the Newport Harbor court with a helmet. The helmet did not have a facemask, but it looked like one used in the 1930s in football.
The player was not the only one from his team who needed protection Thursday night in the second round of the CIF Southern Section Division I playoffs.
In the third set, Scott Hair raced toward the stands to get to a live ball, but a Newport Harbor football player sitting in the first row grabbed Hair and then pushed him. San Clemente Coach Ken Goldstone raised his hands in objection and Newport Harbor Coach Dan Glenn understood why. He saw it all happen.
Glenn called it an unfortunate incident. The Sailors were on their way to easily sweeping San Clemente until the referees stopped the match to find out what happened, and then to toss the football player.
"We just don't need that," said Glenn, adding that he was glad that Hair was not injured. "It's so hard to get kids to come out … but they just need to be in the stands yelling and not be part of the game."
When play resumed, Glenn's Sailors went on to take care of business, winning 25-17, 25-19, 25-13 to advance to the quarterfinals. For the sake of Newport Harbor's next opponent, the Sailors will not be playing host to the match on Saturday.
Fourth-seeded Newport Harbor (24-8) plays at Westlake (27-4). The trip to Westlake Village will be 82 miles, a much longer one for the Sailors than if Servite had upset Westlake in the second round Thursday.
But that did not happen, as Westlake won at Servite, 30-32, 28-26, 25-21, 26-24. Glenn knew his team was traveling for its quarterfinal match no matter what.
The Sailors spent the first two rounds in their friendly confines and produced sweeps each time. Easy work for the Sunset League champion Sailors, but they do not plan to cruise past Westlake.
The Warriors, who claimed the Marmonte League title, beat Newport Harbor, 27-25, 21-25, 15-12, early in the season in a best-of-three format at the Best of the West Tournament in Poway.
"I'm sure they're a lot better and we're a lot better than at the beginning of the year," Glenn said. "It's going to be tough.
"I'm just excited to be going on. It's such a fun time of the year."
Newport Harbor finds itself in the quarters again, the round in which it saw its season end last year. Before the Sailors tried to move on Thursday, Glenn reminded his players about upsets.
Third-seeded Loyola of Los Angeles went down at home in the first round to St. John Bosco, a fourth-place team out of the Trinity League. That same team stunned the Sailors in the postseason two years ago.
"You don't play your best match, you can be easily out," Glenn warned his players about how competitive the teams are in the Division I playoffs. "I also told them, my seniors, 'Potentially this is the last match we ever play in this gym [this year], so play like it.'"
The veterans raised their level of play and put away the Tritons (24-7).
Outside hitters Cody Caldwell and Rusty Sary led the way, with setter Ian Sequeira feeding the two seniors.
Caldwell finished with a match-high 20 kills and added 13 digs, and Sary contributed 13 kills on 15 attempts. Sequeira finished with 30 assists, impressing Glenn with how he distributed the ball.
Newport Harbor's young middle blockers, sophomore Kevin Rakestraw and freshman Clay Carr, combined for a dozen kills and a handful of blocks. The Sailors will need the two help out with the load.
"There's too many good teams where you can't just rely on one guy," Glenn said.