Chargers edge Sailors

HUNTINGTON BEACH — After close to two hours of intense action on the court, the Newport Harbor High girls' volleyball immediately left the gym.

The Sailors had no reason to stick around at Edison on Wednesday night.

They traveled, hoping to stay in contention for a Sunset League title. They lost ground in league play.

The Chargers edged Newport Harbor, 26-24, 20-25, 33-35, 25-18, 15-12, to remain in the hunt for their first league crown in 10 years. The victory was Edison's third straight against the Sailors, two coming in league play.

The most important ones for the Chargers (20-5, 5-1 in league), ranked No. 2 in the CIF Southern Section Division I-AA poll, are in league. Edison is one match behind top-ranked Los Alamitos, which is 6-0 in league.

With four league matches left, No. 3 Newport Harbor (14-6, 3-3) is in third place. The Sailors most likely will finish at that spot after placing second last year.

Edison Coach Trent Jackson is asking a favor of the Sailors.

"It would be great if Newport would knock off Los Al [on Oct. 25] and give [the Griffins] a loss and give us a better chance to win league," said Jackson, whose Chargers dropped a tough five-set decision at home to Los Alamitos last week.

"We'd love to be 8-1 going into Los Al [in the league finale on Nov. 1] and have a chance to beat [the Griffins] and win league."

Newport Harbor tried to make next week's match at Los Alamitos count, for a chance to return to the top of the league for the first time in two years.

Cassie Strickland stood in the way of the Sailors. Strickland, a senior outside hitter bound for the University of Washington, finished with 28 kills, 19 digs and five service aces.

In the final two sets, Strickland recorded almost half of her kills to lift the Chargers. Her jump serve also created problems for the Sailors in the decisive fifth set.

Strickland gave Edison a 6-2 lead after two registering back-to-back aces. The lead turned out to be the largest in the fifth set, but the Sailors rallied, taking a 10-9 lead.

Senior Alex Holbrook started an 8-2 run, producing two kills for Newport Harbor. Claire Castillo, a middle blocker, stuffed a shot and then pounded two kills.

The Sailors' lead didn't last long.

Strickland tied the set at 10-10 by taking some steam off a shot. Newport Harbor Coach Dan Glenn called a timeout and the move didn't help much.

Newport Harbor committed two mistakes and found itself down, 12-10. Strickland made things worse for the visitors, hammering two straight kills to put the Chargers at match point.

With Edison one point away from sweeping the league series against the Sailors, Glenn called a second timeout.

When play resumed, Strickland tried to finish the Sailors. She fell short of her fifth kill in the fifth set. Kasey Thompson and Carolyn Bockrath stuffed Strickland's shot.

Someone other than Strickland clinched it for Edison, which saw Tyler Davis contribute 18 kills. The Chargers have defeated the Sailors in three of the last four league meetings dating back to last season.

Last year, the Chargers knocked off Newport Harbor for the first time in six years. They have owned the Sailors this year.

In the previous two wins, it was the Sailors taking the opening set. Edison won the first set this time around, only to lose the next two sets, including a 35-33 decision, the program's second longest set this year.

In the third set, Holbrook kept the Sailors in it early with seven kills. Thompson dropped in two aces midway through the set and poured it on late with five kills.

"It was a bummer to lose that, but I fired up our kids," Jackson said. "They kept their heads on straight, battled back and won the next one. We did a good job of just continuing to play."

Twitter: @DCPenaloza

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