Coach Dan Glenn has seen this kind of performance at home from Newport Harbor (19-7, 6-0 in league) this season.
“The thing I’m disappointed in is, I don’t think we’ve played our best volleyball in our own gym, Glenn said. “That’s where we should be our best.”
“I haven’t had a team that has been like this [during my 23 years]. I don’t know if it’s [because they’re not] playing hard. It’s [because they’re] not playing well. It just doesn’t seem like we’re focused. This is usually a great home advantage.”
Esperanza almost turned the lights off early at Newport Harbor.
The Sailors, ranked No. 5 in the latest CIF Southern Section Division I coaches’ poll, sputtered at the start. Unforced errors gave the Aztecs confidence.
This isn’t a bad team. Five players can attack the ball for Esperanza (15-4, 3-2), confusing any defense.
The Aztecs mixed it up in the first two games, which really belonged to them. After the Sailors cut the deficit to 22-20 in Game 1, Esperanza scored five straight points to seal it.
Outside hitter Tyler Russie stuffed a shot, sending Newport Harbor to the other side of the bleachers wondering what went wrong. A lot of mistakes, and in the second game, trailing Esperanza, 23-20, the momentum appeared to be with the visitors.
That’s until Jackson Carmack served for Newport Harbor. The Sailors closed it out. Outside hitter JB Green recorded a kill, followed by middle blocker Will Connelly, and then Green again to put the Sailors ahead, 24-23 lead. The other time they led in Game 2 was at 1-0.
Outside hitter Cody Caldwell hammered one of his 17 kills, allowing Newport Harbor to steal the game.
“We were pretty lucky to win that second game,” Glenn said. “We could’ve easily been swept, but we hung in there.”
Playing on the road is usually a test for the visiting team. Both teams competed on a Monday, an unusual day for a league match.