Marymount Owns Orange County

Intense Mater Dei pressure, both on the serve and across the net, was forcing the Marymount Sailors' girls volleyball team into errors - long, wide, four contacts - in the second game of the finals of the Orange County Championships Monday night. Down 14-5, better get ready for the deciding Game 3, right? The nationally-ranked school situated at the foot of Bel Air had other ideas.

"That's not our game plan," said senior setter/right side Jenna Dykstra. "We wanted to make a statement that we're not going to give up ever, that we can come back."

The comeback that capped the 15-13, 16-14 win for Marymount (7-1) started innocently enough, with kills from Betsy Cale and Pixie Levanas sandwiching a Mater Dei hitting error. But the lead didn't evaporate without Monarch help. Passes became less steady and twice serves missed the mark on game point. Even when Mater Dei was able to set up its big hitter, Mallorie Croal, Marymount's Stesha Selsky was there with a couple of stupendous digs.

And so, despite time outs, substitutions (and perhaps prayer), there was nothing Mater Dei (7-2) could do to stem the tide. When Jamie Kaufman's roll shot found the left corner, the comeback was complete.

"We didn't pass the ball," commented Mater Dei coach Craig Pazanti. "We probably had two passes in rhythm [during the run] and Selsky made two incredible digs."

Pazanti, whose young team relies on five juniors and a sophomore to do most of the damage, knows the first game, which Marymount captured 15-13, was his team's for the taking as well. The Monarchs rallied from an 8-3 deficit to a 10-8 lead on terrific serving by Kelly Klein and a couple of Croal kills and the lead was 12-10 until a critical serving error turned the momentum Marymount's way.

Selsky, whose jump serve had been devastating earlier in the game, did the damage behind the service line this time with feet firmly planted. She had two aces during a four point run that put Marymount on top, 14-12. Fittingly, after Mater Dei pulled to within one, her dump ended the game.

Dykstra, one of three Sailors named to the all-tournament team, said the comeback in both games didn't surprise her.

"We came back earlier in the tournament," she explained, "and kind of have a confidence about us."

Levanas led Marymount with 10 kills and three blocks, en route to making the all-tournament team. Selsky, the tourney MVP, had seven kills and eight assists.

Croal, Klein and setter Andrea Collins made the all-tournament team for Mater Dei, which plays Newport Harbor on Wednesday before making the trip to Las Vegas for the Durango tournament on the weekend. The other all-tournament members were Corie Dayton from Mission Viejo, which beat Whittier Christian in three to take the Div. II title; and Whittier Christian's Joelle Sagehorn.

All-tournament selections consisted solely of teams in the finals. That's too bad. So here's one person's view of others deserving of recognition in the Div. I portion of the event.*

Esperanza: Dyanne Lawlor, Lindsay St. John

Bishop Montgomery: Noelle Quinn, Kirsten Castillo

Los Alamitos: Kara Uhl

Harvard-Westlake: Alex Dunphy

Newport Harbor: Kristin McClune

Capistrano Valley: Brandy Magee

Chaparral: Kelli Tennant

Marina: Becky Green

Marymount: Nattie Bjeljac

*This is a list of inclusion, not exclusion. There were many teams I neither saw nor heard about.

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