So much for anticipation. Sunset League volleyball begins Tuesday, and by dinnertime, either Los Alamitos or Newport Harbor will have leg up.
The Griffens and Sailors have tied for the Sunset title in the two seasons since Newport rejoined the league. Tuesday, they meet at Los Alamitos, as they begin a whirlwind schedule that will have them face-to-face again 16 days later.
“If we lose, there’s still a chance (for the Sunset championship),” Newport coach Dan Glenn said. “It just makes it tough, because you’re going uphill the whole way, and if you lose another game in league, you’re probably not going to have a chance to win the league.”
The teams have split home-and-homes in each of the past two seasons, and they enter this match as No. 2 and No. 3 in the county poll, with the Griffens a rung higher. Los Alamitos is 11-4, with two losses to Mira Costa, the No. 1 team in the CIF-SS Division I-AA rankings, and two to Long Beach Wilson, No. 2 in the CIF rankings.
Newport (11-3), also, has lost only to nationally-ranked teams.
“They just don’t make a lot of errors; they play with a lot of energy; and they work hard,” Griffens coach Dave Huber said of Newport. “We’re just trying to be focused mentally for every point and play with a lot of energy. Those have been the keys.”
The teams met in a Hawaii summer tournament, with Newport winning in three sets. But neither team is putting much stock in the early result.
Tuesday, Los Alamitos will be without junior middle blocker Emily Hartong, whose sore knee will keep her out another week or two. Newport hopes to have senior jump-serve specialist Katie Lawler back from a sore rotator cuff.
Glenn sat her down as a precaution on Saturday, with the Sailors in Illinois for the Nike Challenge.
“Those games are important,” Glenn said. “But they’re not league.”