NEWPORT BEACH — With more than a quarter century of coaching high school volleyball, Newport Harbor girls' head man Dan Glenn has developed an impressive tool belt when it comes to in-season repairs.
So, after the Sailors lost a crucial Sunset League match, 25-23, 13-25, 27-25, 25-11, to visiting Los Alamitos on Thursday, Glenn immediately began fixating on elements of his team's play that he could, well, fix.
One thing he will not be able to tinker with, however, is a scheduling anomaly that all but cost his team the benefits of a home match against the rival Griffins, who along with the Sailors have each claimed three league titles since Newport Harbor joined the league in 2006. Both teams have two outright crowns and they shared the championship in 2006.
With Newport Harbor's football team playing host to Mira Costa a little more than a football field away from the gymnasium, the bleachers that usually hold dozens of Sailors student volleyball rooters were virtually empty.
Conversely, Los Alamitos, for which the football team is on a bye week, brought a large, loud, proud and organized crowd, allowing the Griffins to rely on vocal support when things got tough.
The Sailors, in fact, made things tough for the visitors (23-2, 3-0 in league), ranked No. 1 in CIF Southern Section Division I-AA.
Newport Harbor (13-4, 1-1), ranked No. 4 in CIF Division I-AA, held opening-game leads of 19-16, 20-18 and 23-21, before letting the Griffins off the hook.
The Tars trounced the visitors in Game 2, and led, 8-5, in Game 3, in which they later scored six straight points to pull even at 24-24.
Glenn cited too many unforced errors (the Tars missed 14 serves and had 18 hitting miscues while Los Al missed only nine serves and had 11 hitting errors), as well as a lack of conditioning for the primary reasons for defeat.
"I felt like we could maybe get on some rolls against these guys, but you can't miss that many serves against a team like Los Al," Glenn said. "I knew we had to serve tough, so it's kind of a fine line. But I felt like we were a little tired, because [the Griffins] rally. One of the things [the Griffins] are really good at is keeping the ball in play, and they don't panic. They won the long rallies and we looked like a tired team. But they are a really good opponent."
Glenn and his staff, which this year includes area coaching legend Charlie Brande, will surely help remedy the unforced errors. And Glenn said he is even confident that he can improve his players' conditioning.
"[The fatigue] is curable," Glenn said. "We can work on being in better shape when we play them the next time [Oct. 25 at Los Al]. It may sound kind of hard to believe, because that's only little more than two weeks away, but I think we can get better in that department the next time we play them."
Senior Cinnamon Sary was better than any of her teammates Thursday, amassing 16 kills, six digs and four assists to lead the Sailors. She also was in on four blocks.
Newport Harbor senior outside hitter Alex Holbrook had nine kills, a pair of aces and two block assists, while senior Kasey Thompson added eight kills and sophomore Carolyn Bockrath had seven kills.
Bockrath was in on five blocks, junior setter Torey Thompson had 35 assists and senior libero Tatum Norton chipped in eight digs and two aces.
Los Al had a balanced hitting attack, paced by 6-foot-2 sophomore middle blocker Crissy Jones (11 kills and four blocks) and senior outside hitter Jojo Schnabl (11 kills).
Seniors Alijah Gunsaulus and Jaylen Villanueva had nine kills apiece and senior Rachel Fattal came off the bench late in the second game to handle setting duties the rest of the way.
"Getting a win here is always huge," Los Al Coach Dan Huber said.
Glenn believes the Sailors can't spend any time lamenting Thursday's loss, as they prepare to meet Edison, ranked No. 3 in CIF Division I-AA, in another Sunset League challenge on Saturday.