Sailors strong in sweep

RANCHO SANTA MARGARITA — The Newport Harbor High girls' volleyball team played inside a gym Tuesday that felt more like a sauna.

The Sailors didn't really have to sweat much out to get past another top-10 CIF Southern Section Division I-AA team.

Even with a makeshift lineup, fifth-ranked Newport Harbor went into eighth-ranked Santa Margarita and recorded a 25-22, 25-13, 25-19 sweep. Coach Dan Glenn applauded his team's effort, which resulted in a second straight set win against a top-10 opponent in six days.

An impressive feat considering that two matches into the season Newport Harbor isn't at full strength. Glenn said USC-bound senior Cinnamon Sary is dealing with arm issues and seniors Alex Holbrook and Claire Castillo are back from knee injuries.

The Sailors are still playing at a high level. They have gone on the road and defeated two of the past three section champions, Long Beach Poly and Santa Margarita.

The schedule doesn't get any easier. Glenn called this week a huge one. Next are matches against Laguna Beach (Thursday) and the Battle of the Bay against Corona del Mar (Saturday), teams ranked No. 3 and No. 2 in Division I-A, respectively.

At least both contests are at Newport Harbor.

Sary, who was counted on to hit more this year, will most likely be setting the offense in those two upcoming matches as she did against Santa Margarita (1-1).

"She takes a full swing at the ball and she just hasn't done that because she's been setting so much and her arm's not used to that," Glenn said. "We want her healthy. We're going to need her to hit later on in the season. We have a really tough week this week. If she hits all week this week, she might be toast for a while."

Sary let her teammates hammer away at Santa Margarita. She dished out 25 assists, spreading the ball around.

Kasey Thompson stepped in and led Newport Harbor with a dozen kills and Carolyn Bockrath, a middle blocker, contributed eight kills and five blocks. Holbrook and Castillo combined for 10 kills and five blocks.

The Eagles challenged Newport Harbor in the opening set, getting within one point of the Sailors three times late. They never pulled even.

Castillo kept the Sailors ahead with a kill and then Bockrath and Sary stuffed a shot to put Newport Harbor at set point. A wide shot by Santa Margarita's Katy Crouse clinched the set for the visitors.

The changes to the lineup Glenn made the day before in practice because of Sary's arm troubles worked out.

"It's a veteran group," said Glenn, who got four kills and four blocks from Sary. "Normally if you [insert a different lineup] with a high school group, they can't adjust that well. But we got a setter [in Sary] that's been in a lot of big matches. I didn't have to worry about her as far as where to be. A couple of the other kids in the first game, they were a little lost."

The scoreboard operator was also a little confused. The Sailors had just cruised in the second set, with Thompson recording seven kills during a double-digit run.

Newport didn't need any help early in the third set, but the operator gave the Sailors four extra points when they only should have led by one. The match was stopped for a couple of minutes and the operator and referee still couldn't figure out the correct score.

Play resumed and Glenn was on his way to defeating one of his former assistants, Bryan Cottriel, Santa Margarita's head coach.

Glenn will now get a chance to beat one of his former players Saturday. Marissa Booker, who's in her first year at CdM (3-0), played for Glenn at Newport Harbor before she graduated in 1999.

"I'm not facing Marissa. It's Newport versus Corona. I'm [watching] like everybody else," said Glenn, who saw CdM claim the Back Bay rivalry match last season for the first time in six years. "I'm excited for Corona. I think they're starting to realize what a great coach they got. She's going to do a phenomenal job there. She's a great person, a great role model for those girls, and was one of my all-time favorite players. I love the fact that she's coaching, but that [match] is about the people on the court.

"I don't know if it's revenge [for last year]. We definitely want to win. It's a city championship."

Expect another heated gym.

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