NEWPORT BEACH — Maddy Brown had been sitting on the bench since the first set, soaking up the atmosphere of the girls' match at the 34th annual Dave Mohs Memorial Orange County High School Volleyball Games.
Suddenly, on match point in the third set, the Newport Harbor High senior was subbed in to serve Friday night. The significance wasn't lost on Brown, not in the Sailors' gym where she had spent countless hours perfecting her game.
"It's really cool, especially since it's in our own gym," Brown said. "I served the last ball, and it's my last serve in this gym."
Brown's North team won the point, completing a rally for a 23-25, 25-19, 15-13 victory in the all-star match at Newport Harbor High.
Brown, a TCU-bound opposite hitter, was on the North along with Newport Harbor middle blocker Lauren Demos (UC San Diego). Three Corona del Mar players – opposite Morgan Boukather (Stanford), setter Megan Griffin (TCU) and outside hitter Hailey Senske were on the South squad.
Brown started the match and played the first set, finishing with a single kill. She would have had another one, but Boukather just got her hand under the ball before it hit the ground.
The competitive juices definitely started flowing as the match went on.
"It's all thrown together at the last minute, but everyone out there's really competitive," Brown said. "It's always nice to get the win instead of the loss."
Boukather had eight kills and an ace for the South, which led throughout the first set. But the North forced a third set, though technically the match was scheduled for three no matter what.
The South got out to a 4-1 lead in the third set, but the North rallied behind big kills from Orange Lutheran's Shaq Torres and the match MVP, Arizona-bound Hallie Amaro of Los Alamitos. Amaro had a match-high eight kills, three of those late in the set to break ties.
One of them, South Coach Lance Stewart of Laguna Beach visibly disagreed with. Amaro's kill that gave the North a 13-12 lead landed out of bounds, but to Stewart's chagrin the referee ruled it had been hit off the block.
Boukather hammered a kill cross-court to make the score 13-13, but Amaro's kill gave the North its first match point. Brown came in to serve, and the match ended as Boukather's final hit sailed long.
"Absolutely," said Boukather, the Pacific Coast League MVP, when asked if she was disappointed to lose. "That last point killed me."
But she could say it with a smile on her face.
"The fans are here and they're cheering, and it's all really fun," said Boukather, who had her 18th birthday Friday. "That's what I miss most about the high school season, the friends and the atmosphere, the energy … [playing again with Griffin and Senske] was great. I'm so glad I was able to do it."
Senske had four kills for the South, and Demos a block for the North.