By David Carrillo Peñaloza
9:45 PM PDT, September 24, 2012
At the Dave Mohs Orange County Championships, Sage Hill School Coach Dan Thomassen always sees an abundance of size on practically every girls' volleyball team.
That didn't stop Thomassen from entering Sage Hill in the tournament's top division on Friday. He said the program has only done so twice.
The second time around Sage Hill stood out among much larger schools with 6-foot-plus players and it can thank Halland Mckenna, a 5-foot-6 outside hitter.
The sophomore helped the Lightning to a ninth-place finish in the 32-team tournament by recording 31 kills, 28 digs and five service aces. Mckenna produced against what Thomassen said were girls a half-foot taller.
The Lightning, ranked No. 2 in the CIF Southern Section 3A poll at the time, defeated Capistrano Valley and Los Osos of Rancho Cucamonga, ranked No. 3 in Division 2AA, during the first two days of the tournament at Edison High. Sage Hill's losses came against Redondo Union and Los Alamitos, ranked No. 2 and No. 5, respectively, in Division 1AA.
"The performance of the volleyball team this weekend was one of the most outstanding team achievements I've seen in 15 years of coaching," said Thomassen, who has led Sage Hill to two CIF Southern Section titles (Division IV-A in 2005 and Division 4AA in 2011). "[Mckenna] was flying around the gym and high above huge blockers. She loves volleyball and she loves competing."
Thomassen said Sage Hill (7-3) is off to its best start ever.
The last two Fridays have been pretty good to Newport Harbor football coach Jeff Brinkley.
He turned 60 on Friday. Is there a better way to go out and celebrate than by winning a game?
His Sailors didn't just win any game. They pulled off a 28-7 upset against San Clemente, which at the time was undefeated and ranked eighth in the CIF Southern Section Pac-5 Division.
The week before, the Sailors came from behind in the final seconds to beat Corona del Mar, 27-26, in the Battle of the Bay.
In the last couple of weeks, Brinkley has led Newport Harbor to victories against two 2011 CIF Southern Section finalists, San Clemente (Pac-5 Division) and CdM (Southern Division).
Those efforts should bode well for the Sailors (2-2), who hit the road this week for the first time this season. Newport Harbor, ranked tied for No. 9 in the CIF Southwest Division, play Mira Costa (2-2) in Manhattan Beach on Friday at 7 p.m.
Go to Estancia's football game against Sonora in La Habra on Friday and you will witness history.
The two schools are going to meet for the first time on the field, but there is a bigger story.
You might get to see Estancia senior running back Robert Murtha break the Newport-Mesa career rushing record of 4,333 yards.
Coach Mike Bargas said Murtha is expected to return from an ankle injury that sidelined him last week. Murtha needs 41 yards to own the record.