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Rock Athletes Become OC All-Stars

Congratulations to Rock Athletes: Jessie Harris, Remy Wilson, Payton Carter, Kathryn Plummer, Natalia Bruening

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OC All-Stars Have Heart

By David Carrillo Peñaloza | LA Times

Jessie Harris represented Corona del Mar High one last time, all for a cause that personally touched her heart.

Harris was one of nine local seniors taking part in the Dave Mohs Memorial Orange County High School Volleyball All-Star festivities at Newport Harbor on Friday. She and the rest of the All-Stars weren’t only competing for their schools. They were playing to raise money for Lucy Fisher, a 2-year-old who has to undergo open heart surgery because she was diagnosed recently with a soft heart murmur.

Harris understands what Fisher is going through right now.

“I had open heart surgery when I was 4,” Harris said. “I love that [all the proceeds from the All-Star event] goes to a great cause.”

While Harris doesn’t personally know Fisher or her family, CdM boys’ volleyball coach Steve Conti and Newport Harbor girls’ volleyball coach Dan Glenn both do. Conti’s son Braden and Glenn’s son Jaden play on the same Balboa Bay Volleyball Club 14-and-under boys’ team with Lucy’s brother, Owen, an incoming freshman at Newport Harbor.

“It puts things in perspective on what’s more important [in life],” Conti said of what the Fisher family is going through.

Conti said the proceeds from the event would help with Fisher’s high medical costs, as well as with the amount of time her father Jesse and mother Anna have missed from work to be there for Fisher. For those who were unable to attend Friday’s fundraiser, which featured two matches, donations can still be made.

“We wanted, just in case someone couldn’t make it, to still have the opportunity to send in money,” said Conti, adding that those wishing to donate can make a check payable to Jesse and Anna Fisher and mail it to Conti at CdM (2101 Eastbluff Drive, Newport Beach, CA 92660) or Glenn at Newport Harbor (600 Irvine Ave., Newport Beach, CA 92663). “We’re trying to help someone in our volleyball community.”

The volleyball community came out to support the cause and the county’s finest seniors.

For Conti, it was the first time he coached since he led his Sea Kings to the CIF Southern California Regional Division I final on May 28. Three of Conti’s CdM standouts — Matt Ctvrtlik, Sam Kobrine and Will Hunter — played for the North team, coached by Conti. The other local star with the North was Costa Mesa’s Mason Tufuga, an opposite bound for Stanford.

The North boasted a lot of firepower for Ctvrtlik, a future Harvard setter, to distribute the ball to on the night. Ctvrtlik had Kobrine, an outside hitter heading to UCLA, Tufuga, and Huntington Beach’s Sean Morrissey (USC), Eric Beatty (Stanford) and Shane Holdaway (BYU).

The South actually won the best-of-three match, sweeping it. Since it was an All-Star event, the teams played the full three sets, with the South beating the North, 25-23, 25-23, 15-17.

The locals involved in the girls’ contest were Harris and two of her CdM teammates, Payton Carter and Natalia Bruening, and Newport Harbor’s Remy Wilson and Jaclyn Brown. The quintet played for the North, and Harris and Bruening got the team off to a good start by claiming the opening set.

Harris and Bruening each recorded two kills and combined for two solo blocks and two block assists in Game 1, but the South rallied, taking the next two sets for a 16-25, 25-22, 15-13 victory.

The MVP award went to Sage Patchell, from Laguna Beach. Patchell, who plans to play on Arizona State’s beach volleyball team, produced seven of 10 kills in the second set, evening up the match.

Game 3 turned out to be a back-and-forth battle. It was even eight times, and Harris and Wilson each tied it with a kill.

The player breaking the final tie was Patchell’s Laguna Beach teammate, Jamie Robbins, who’s going to UCLA. The left-handed attacker’s kill gave the South a 14-13 lead. At match point, the South sealed things on the next serve.

For Harris, who finished with eight kills, two solo blocks and two block assists, the outcome did not matter. To her, Friday was about playing with her friends and teammates one final time in high school, and helping raise money for Lucy Fisher.

Harris is living proof that you can survive open heart surgery and live a healthy and productive life. Harris is graduating from CdM with a 4.3 cumulative grade-point average on June 23, and then she’s off to Princeton to study and play volleyball.

“Stay strong and all the best to their family,” Harris said she wished the Fishers.