Spring notes: Mater Dei volleyball finishes third in Best of the West Invitational



Orange County boys volleyball teams had a strong presence on the all-tournament team at the Best of the West Invitational over the weekend.

Brandon Hicks and Garrett Zolg were among the players honored after they led Mater Dei to a third-place finish, tops among county teams in the tournament.

Corona del Mar's Brandon Browning, Newport Harbor's Cole Pender and San Clemente's Kyler Presho also received all-tournament honors.

This week, the Orange County Championships and Foothill Varsity Classic start Friday.

Foothill’s tournament concludes Saturday. The O.C. Championships will have it playoffs on Saturday, with the finals taking place Monday.

Pool information for both tournaments will be available later this week.



Dana Hills’ boys swimming team received a boost of speed at the Capistrano Valley Relays from the return of one of its standouts. Michael Smith, who missed most of last season because of a left shoulder injury, raced on three of the Dolphins’ four meet-record relays Saturday.

The senior also anchored the 400-yard freestyle relay.

“I feel pretty good,” said Smith, who blazed a time of 46.08 seconds to bring Dana Hills to the wall in 3 minutes, 6.15 seconds in the 400.

Smith had surgery in May for a torn labrum. He couldn’t train in the pool for about five months following the procedure but returned to action this past fall.

“I still go twice a week (to physical therapy),” he said. “I’ve been swimming for 11 years. Just over time, (my shoulder) wore down. I was actually swimming on it for about two years torn.”

Smith split a 20.95 on the 300 free relay and led off the 200 butterfly with a 23.71.

Also last week, he clocked a 4:38.98 in the 500 free.

Smith and teammate Trent Pellini have committed to Purdue. …

Eva Merrell raced in her first major high school meet in almost two years when she represented Crean Lutheran at the Capistrano Valley Relays.

She was a CIF-SS Division 1 champion in the 100 backstroke for Corona del Mar as a freshman. In 2016, she focused on training for the Olympic Trials with the Aquazot club.

“It’s so much fun,” Merrell said Saturday of high school swimming.

Merrell is now a member of the U.S. national team for the 200-meter backstroke. She left Sunday for a two-week training camp in Chula Vista.



Top-ranked Corona del Mar, the defending county champion, will host second-ranked Foothill at noon Saturday.

The teams met last year at Foothill and CdM came away with a 16-13 victory.

CdM will have played just two games this season before Saturday's clash. Foothill will have played seven game by Saturday.



The Mission Viejo Gold team won the seventh annual JSerra Invitational last week, finishing with a 7-under-par 65 at Arroyo Trabuco Golf Course. The tournament puts an emphasis on teamwork, using a best-ball format to determine the score.

Mason Green won medalist honors, posting a 1-under-par 71 for Orange Lutheran, which finished fourth.

JSerra varsity golfers claimed the next two positions on the leaderboard after the Lions’ Crimson and Black each posted a 66. The Crimson team was awarded second place on a card-off.

University Gold, Tesoro and JSerra Gold tied for sixth at 68.


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