LOS ANGELES — Coach Dan Glenn said his Newport Harbor High girls' volleyball team played some of its best volleyball of the year Saturday night.
He said Newport needed to pass well, play defense well and serve tough to have a chance in the CIF State Division I Southern California regional semifinal match.
In Glenn's estimation, his team did all three. No. 2-seeded host Los Angeles Marymount still blocked any dreams of No. 6-seeded Newport Harbor pulling its second straight upset on the road.
They were big, thunderous blocks in the fifth set that helped Marymount escape with a 25-22, 21-25, 13-25, 26-24, 15-8 victory, ending Newport Harbor's season.
A team named the Sailors was guaranteed to advance to the SoCal final. Marymount (32-4), the CIF Southern Section Division I-A champion, made sure it moved on and sent Newport Harbor (26-10) packing.
The blocks in the fifth set shifted momentum. Six-foot-three freshman Yaasmeen Bedart-Ghani and 5-11 junior Chyna Perkins combined for two of them. The first one broke a 5-5 tie. The second one gave Marymount a 9-6 lead.
After Katie Edwards and Lauren Greskovics-Fuller combined for a block of their own, it was 13-7. Cinnamon Sary's kill brought Newport a bit closer, but Edwards' team-high 21st kill of the match gave Marymount its first match point. Marymount converted it on a service ace down the middle by Lanti Moye-McLaren.
"They played some good volleyball at the end," Glenn said. "We looked like we got a little tired at the end, but that was that momentum thing, and they did a nice job with that.
"We really don't try to fool anybody on what we're doing. It's just like, 'Hey, the ball's going here. Try to stop us.' And they did a good job of stopping us."
The USC-bound Sary still shined, as she had a match-high 29 kills. Sophomore middle blocker Carolyn Bockrath added eight kills, and seniors Kasey Thompson (three service aces) and Allison Schelin had six kills each.
Junior setter Torey Thompson had 46 assists, and senior libero Tatum Norton had 22 digs.
Sary helped Newport Harbor to a 2-1 set lead as it appeared Marymount was wilting. Behind strong serving from Schelin during an 8-0 spurt, Newport Harbor won the third set going away and appeared to have the momentum.
Marymount Coach Cari Klein said she saw her team all but concede the third set at the end and focus on the fourth set. Marymount also fell behind 9-4 in the fourth set, but began to rally behind more big blocks from Edwards.
Soon Marymount had the momentum, just as it did in the Division I-A title match win over Corona del Mar when it also came from 2-1 down.
"It's very dangerous, and they do this to me all the time," said Klein, who has her team in reach of its seventh state title in her 14-year tenure, of Marymount's dips at times. "I feel like that was not something to do against an amazing team like Newport Harbor, but we did bring it back."
The teams battled back and forth at the end of the fourth set. At 24-24 a long rally ended with a Newport Harbor hitting violation, and Marymount took advantage of its first set point when a Newport attempt didn't quite make it over the net.
Marymount kept its balanced attack going, with Moye-McLaren with 13 kills and Manon Greskovics-Fuller with 12. In the end, Klein watched Edwards and her 6-3 freshman Bedart-Ghani make big plays down the stretch.
"I tried not to drift, we tried not drift," Bedart-Ghani said of her blocking. "Once we got our feet there and stopped and pressed over, it got easier. We knew where [Sary] was. Finally we got a hold of where she was hitting – what angles – and we were able to shut her down."
Glenn said his team played better than it did in winning at Clovis West in five sets on Tuesday in a SoCal Regional first-round match. That made it a tough loss to take for the resilient Newport Harbor squad, which finished third in the Sunset League before advancing to the Division I-AA title match.
"I was real proud of the way we played," Glenn said. "We played some of our best volleyball of the year tonight, which you have to. I mean, we're playing a CIF champion in their gym and they're real, real good … It's just a tough, tough way to end the season. But, on the other hand, it's not like we played poorly."
Marymount plays at top-seeded Los Alamitos in the SoCal Regional Final on Tuesday.