LOS ALAMITOS — Late in the regular season, Coach Dan Glenn said his Newport Harbor High girls’ volleyball team is trying and learning new things.
One of those is figuring out how to play without standout Alex Holbrook.
The Sailors’ second Sunset League match without the senior was on Tuesday and it was much tougher than the first one. Newport Harbor traveled to Los Alamitos, ranked No. 1 in the CIF Southern Section Division I-AA poll.
The last time the Sailors played at Los Alamitos was last year, when they rallied to win in five sets. They pulled it off despite losing Holbrook in the second set to a season-ending knee injury.
The Sailors lost Holbrook for another reason last week, when she quit. Without her this time around, they stood no chance at coming back at Los Alamitos.
The Griffins swept third-ranked Newport Harbor, 25-10, 25-22, 25-23, to remain undefeated in league play. Los Alamitos (29-2, 8-0 in league) is one win away from defending its league title.
As for the Sailors (15-7, 4-4), they are officially out of the race for first place.
Since rejoining the Sunset League five years ago, they had contended for a league crown with Los Alamitos every year. The Sailors split the league title with the Griffins three times and finished runner-up to the Griffins twice.
This year, third place is the best the Sailors can finish.
“I’m not happy to be obviously in third place. I’m disappointed about that,” Glenn said. “Right now, especially when you don’t have a shot at the league title, it’s about getting better.”
Losing a returning starter like Holbrook doesn’t help things.
Glenn said he’s hopeful the Sailors can bounce back and clinch the league’s third playoff berth Thursday, when they play host to Huntington Beach, which is 2-6 in league.
The setback was a first under Glenn since his program returned to the Sunset League in 2006. During the stretch, no team had swept Newport Harbor in a league match until Los Alamitos did Tuesday.
The Griffins, ranked No. 10 in the country by ESPN, came out on fire. They went on a 7-1 run early, forcing Glenn to call a timeout.
A couple of minutes later, Glenn had to call another timeout after Los Alamitos went on a 6-1 run.
The Sailors had no answers for Jordyn Schnabl (13 kills) and the Griffins’ jump serve, which recorded five aces in the opening set.
“When you’re playing the No. 1 team in CIF, it’s tough,” Glenn said. “You’ve got to play error free and we made a few too many errors.”
Glenn saw his team clean up its act in the second and third sets. The Sailors stayed competitive in both sets.
Cinnamon Sary produced seven of her 19 kills in the second set. The USC-bound outside hitter helped Newport Harbor tie the set 13 times, as did middle blocker Carolyn Bockrath. The sophomore recorded three kills and two blocks in the second set, finishing with seven kills and three blocks.
Down the stretch, Los Alamitos made the plays. It was either left-handed hitter Jaylen Villanueva, outside hitter Alijah Gunsaulus or middle blocker Crissy Jones hammering shots.
Newport Harbor libero Tatum Norton did her part, collecting digs, but the Griffins are loaded.
“We got a big [match] against Huntington and then we’re going to just kind of regroup,” said Glenn, whose team swept the Oilers on Oct. 11. “We’ve got a great tournament up in Santa Barbara this weekend. We’ve got a lot of volleyball ahead of us.”