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Kevin Rooney was married to his wife, Maureen, for 39 years, the same amount of time he has been football coach at Sherman Oaks Notre Dame, so you understand how difficult it has been in recent days dealing with his wife’s death on Tuesday from leukemia. She was 67.

But Rooney said Sunday he has been strengthened by the outpouring support from not only the Notre Dame community but coaches throughout the high school football community.

“A lot of people have reached out,” he said. “I’m grateful. The athletic community is pretty neat to have so many coaches from other schools reach out.”

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For weeks, most have projected St. John. Bosco, Mater Dei and Corona Centennial to reach the Southern Section Division 1 semifinals. All three remain heavily favored to get to the semifinals.

But the fourth team has been the uncertain spot, and it will come down Friday’s quarterfinal between 11-0 Oaks Christian and 9-2 JSerra in San Juan Capistrano.

Oaks Christian won last year’s Division 2 championship, returned most of its top players and was likely to get this far if it stayed healthy. Oaks Christian has kept its star players playing _ running back Zach Charbonnet, quarterback/linebacker Josh Calvert, defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux.

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CIF STATE GIRLS’ VOLLEYBALL

SOUTHERN REGIONAL

OPEN DIVISION

Mater Dei kicker Nick Lopez.
Mater Dei kicker Nick Lopez. (Courtesy of Lopez family)

The Lopez brothers are set to duel Friday night in the kicking competition when Mission Viejo plays Mater Dei in the Division 1 quarterfinals. RJ Lopez kicks for Mission Viejo. Nick Lopez kicks for Mater Dei.

“The house is torn in half,” Nick said Sunday on his way home from a recruiting trip to Oregon.

The brothers have separate bedrooms but share the same bathroom, so trouble could be brewing.

GIRLS' VOLLEYBALL

SOUTHERN SECTION

Championships, Saturday

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BOYS' WATER POLO

SOUTHERN SECTION

DIVISION 1

FIELD HOCKEY TOURNAMENT OF CHAMPIONS

Finals, Saturday

Championship: Harvard-Westlake 2, Huntington Beach 1
Third place: Newport Harbor 2, Bonita 0

GIRLS' VOLLEYBALL

CITY

Championships

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Saturday

SOUTHERN SECTION

DIVISION 2

Palisades coach Carlos Gray and his players prepare to receive their championship awards after defeating Taft in four sets.
Palisades coach Carlos Gray and his players prepare to receive their championship awards after defeating Taft in four sets. (Eric Sondheimer)

Everyone in the City Section had been waiting for Alex Laita to return from a knee injury to see what kind of impact she would make for the Palisades girls’ volleyball team.

Last season’s City player of the year was injured in the first match of the year, then disappeared while trying to get healthy.

Well, she returned with a vengeance in the Open Division playoffs, and her serving and hitting helped the Dolphins claim their record 30th City title on Saturday night with a 26-24, 25-14, 8-25, 25-23 victory over Taft at Birmingham.

Bound for Oregon, the 6-foot-1 senior returned for a final regular season match and has been slowly getting into shape. When Palisades upset No. 1-seeded Granada Hills in an epic five-set comeback, the path had been cleared for coach Carlos Gray to win his third title in six years as coach.

Laita had eight kills in the fourth set alone to nullify any momentum the Toreadors had gained from a dominating win in the third set. She finished with 22 kills.

San Pedro won the Division I championship with a 25-16, 25-20, 15-25, 25-19 win over El Camino Real. Lauren Sutrin contributed 13 kills and Sara Peterson had 10.

In Division II, Elizabeth won its 10th overall title with a 25-11, 25-15, 25-17 win over Central City. In Division III, Birmingham defeated Maywood 25-12, 25-20, 25-23.