Sailors advance to second round

NEWPORT BEACH — Coach Steve Astor said there is one boys' volleyball team Newport Harbor High has wanted to play all season.

The Sailors earned a shot to face that team.

Newport Harbor gets to see Dana Hills after the host Sailors swept Ventura, 27-25, 25-14, 25-16, in the first round of the CIF Southern Section Division 1 playoffs on Tuesday.

While Astor said the site of Thursday's second-round matchup between the Sailors (22-8) and Dolphins (29-4) would be decided by a coin flip on Wednesday morning, he doesn't care where the match is played.

Astor is that confident in his Sailors, who went unranked in the final Division 1 coaches' poll, against the sixth-ranked Dolphins.

"I'm not too worried about where it is, home or away," Astor said. "I'm just worried about us being ready to play. I know they will. I think these guys have always wanted to play [the Dolphins]. We've seen them from afar and have a lot of respect for them."

The Dolphins, the South Coast League champions, have only lost twice since opening the season with two losses.

The Sailors and Dolphins have a handful of common opponents. The biggest are Manhattan Beach Mira Costa and Servite, which are the No. 3 and No. 4 seeds, respectively, in the Division 1 playoffs, and Corona del Mar, the No. 2 seed in Division 2.

Astor's Sailors closed out the regular season last week with a home loss to CdM in the annual Battle of the Bay rivalry match. The setback, the Sailors' second in their last three matches, didn't seem to bother Newport Harbor in the opening round of the postseason.

The lead belonged to Newport Harbor for much of the first set, until Astor said his team took Ventura (13-10) for granted a little bit. The Cougars, the third-place team from the Channel League, took a 22-20 lead after going on a 9-2 run.

To stop the momentum, Astor called a timeout. The Sailors, the second-place team from the Sunset League, returned to the court and responded.

Peirce Ward, whose shot seemed to keep going outside the antenna or hitting it, found his shot for Newport Harbor. The sophomore outside hitter pounded a kill, one of his nine in the match.

Clay Carr recorded one of his dozen kills late, and the Sailors were on their way to finishing Ventura in three and setting up a match with a team they are eager to see on the other side of the net.

Twitter: @DCPenaloza

Copyright © 2019, Daily Pilot
EDITION: California | U.S. & World