Locals still going strong

When September rolls around, it is always interesting to see how local girls' volleyball players are doing as they extend their playing days in college.

Whether they play one season or all four years, it is a special time in their lives.

Newport Harbor's Maddy Brown and Corona del Mar's Megan Griffin are finding some playing time at TCU. Maddy is playing well as a back-up outside hitter, while Megan is the back-up setter behind Megan Munce. Munce, a former Newport star, was an All American two season ago, but suffered season-ending ACL injury early last season. She has recovered fully and leads her team in assists and service aces. Megan's toughness in her recovery is not a surprise to any of us who were lucky enough to coach her. That list includes Steve Conti (at Ensign), Dan Glenn (Newport) and Gary Nakamura and myself (club).

Prentice Perkins Lewis, who was a former All-CIF soccer and volleyball player at CdM in the late 1980s coaches the Horned Frogs. TCU is currently undefeated with two tournament championships. Munce was all-tournament in both events.

Sarah Buckingham, out of Newport Harbor, has started her freshman season at New York University with a bang. Not only did she lead her team to the NYU Labor Day Invitational while leading the team in kills per game, she was named the Most Valuable Player for the tournament.

Newport's Lauren Demos is making a similar impact at UC San Diego, where she leads the team in hitting percentage. The Tritons are undefeated with Lauren in the middle.

CdM's Morgan Boukather is at Stanford and is battling the returning opposite player for the starting position. She currently is out-hitting the incumbent. Stanford is ranked No. 3 in the latest American Volleyball Coaches Assn. poll. An interesting player for the Cardinal is Mary Ellen Luck, who is the sister of Heisman Trophy candidate Andrew Luck, and plays as a starting back-row player.

Another former Sea King, Claire Ham, is on the roster at Auburn. She is struggling with injuries and has not seen any action yet.

Local resident Kathryn Connor (Santa Margarita) is enjoying a very productive freshman season at Brown and has started every match.

CdM's Amanda Nickel is an opposite for the Bears and has had some outstanding games.

One of the most unfortunate events happened at Brown last season when Newport's Carly Cotton's career ended when she suffered a severe concussion by an errant serve in warm-ups. Carly had been the starting libero. She is currently a student at Brown, but cannot play. Always high energy, she will channel that energy into other areas.

At Princeton, CdM's Sydney Brombal starts as an outside hitter. Princeton's new coach is Sabrina King, who attended Harbor Day School before her outstanding college career at Princeton.

Newport's Jennifer Palmquist is on the roster. She had dislocated her knee, but is practicing again.

Newport's Kirby Burnham has earned the starting outside position at nationally ranked USC. The Trojans host UCLA Friday, when she will see CdM's Madie Smith, who plays back row for the Bruins. Madie recently suffered a scooter accident at some of the construction for the new Pauley Pavilion, but is battling back.

Newport's Katey Thompson is playing both middle blocker and opposite at UC Santa Barbara, while MacKenzi Campbell has transferred from Montana State to UC Irvine, where she is working as a setter. Kelly Heenan has transferred from UCSB and is currently attending Vanguard, where she will play next season. Thompson, Burnham, Campbell and Heenan as was Maddy Brown were all key players for Newport's state championship in 2009.

At Vanguard, Kelly's sister, Jamie Heenan is the starting outside hitter for the fourth year. She leads the team in hitting, serving and passing.

Another former Sailor, Ari Lysacek, is the starting setter for the third year at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

Newport's Alice Cope is playing at Cornell. Alice has played both in the middle and opposite for her three seasons.

CdM's Kara Chatham is in her senior season at Villanova, where she is a starting back-row player.

Alex Penewell, who played at Newport, transferred after two seasons at Colorado and currently leads Montana State in hitting percentage and in blocks.

It is a reward for these young athletes, who have worked so hard, to play in college.

The annual Battle of the Bay in girls' volleyball is Sept. 17 at Newport Harbor. This is your chance to see more future collegians in action.

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