"It's just the playoffs," said Gaeta, who pounded a match-high 25
kills to help the Tars (26-6) advance to Friday's quarterfinal at No.
4-seeded Royal (22-3) in Simi Valley. "League is great, but it's all
about CIF. That's the way it has been for me in football and volleyball."
An All-CIF receiver who has all but finalized plans to play football
at Colorado State, Gaeta brings gridiron intensity to the volleyball
"He plays volleyball like a football player," summed up Newport Coach
Dan Glenn, who was pleased with his team's balance against the Tritons
"(Senior setter Loyd Wright) did a great job of spreading the ball
around tonight and our balance helped us key on the other team's
weaknesses. We're to the point where I don't have to change my lineup."
Harbor did utilize its normal substitution pattern, but the dominance
of standouts Gaeta, Wright, Greg Perrine, Erik Peterson, Brett Perrine
and Jamie Diefenbach, was never more apparent than the deciding final
moments of Tuesday's two-hour tussle.
After losing leads of 4-0, 7-5 and 8-6, San Clemente pulled away from
a 9-9 tie for a 13-9 advantage, bringing the real threat of a rally
scored fifth game.
But, after a Triton hitting error gave Harbor its 10th point of the
game, crucial kills by Brett Perrine (sideout), Greg Perrine Peterson,
Gaeta and Gaeta (all for points) again pushed the hosts to a 14-13 edge.
After the South Coast League champions pulled even on a Harbor error,
the last of the Tritons' 19 service errors gave the Sailors the chance to
close out the final match on their home floor as four-game victors.
A Peterson stuff block put the hosts on top, 15-14, then Diefenbach, a
6-foot-8 sophomore, reached high to tip an overpass to the floor,
triggering a celebration from the appreciative Harbor faithful.
"That was very important," Wright said of avoiding the often
treacherous decider. "The best team doesn't always win in rally scoring."
Wright amassed 66 assists, most of which went to the senior trio of
Gaeta, Greg Perrine (21 kills) and Peterson (14). Diefenbach, however,