Such is the nature of the Southern Section and its 10 titles, where if you're halfway decent, you, too, can take home a trophy. That fact's not lost on Newport head coach Dan Glenn, who said his team is trapped by enrollment in Division II instead of playing up in the tougher Division I, where the Sailors had resided until a rule change a couple of years back prevented them from moving up.
"We should have the option to move up," Glenn said. "That we don't is ridiculous to me, especially where Northern California schools like St. Francis can. But we have no choice with the schedule that we're in right now. I'm just excited because this is the best we could do so far."
So it was that Newport took the court against the Warriors knowing that if they played decently, they would win. They played decently, and did win. With hardly a sweat.
Newport scored eight of the match's first 10 points to set the tone of the day. Brittany Prater cut the lead to 8-4 with a spike off the Newport block, but Alyson Jennings answered back with her second jump-serve ace of the game, which ended moments later when Elizabeth Clayton's tip found the floor.
Game 2 was even worse for the Warriors, which had seven aces served at them, two each by Kristin McClune and Lauren Miller. The game ended, fittingly, on an Alexis Kerns ace.
"At times it shocked us at how steady and consistent they were," commented Westlake coach Doug Magorien.
It was more of the same in Game 3 for Newport, which bolted to a 7-0 lead, using an Emily Turner tip and ace as part of the run. Substituting liberally, Westlake managed to claw within 14-11 on a block and kill by Jessica Harper. But a Miller kill ended the match and started a celebration that was a foregone conclusion before the match even started
"CIF finals always are big no matter who your opponent is," said McClune. "Your biggest opponent is always yourself. That's what motivates me and us as a team."
Now, the focus shifts to the state tourney, where the Sailors (26-6) should enter as the No. 1 seed in Southern California. McClune hopes it will result in a state title.
"We're definitely going to have tough competition with Mater Dei and Liberty," she said. "But we're going to win."