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Sea Kings come up short

CdM hangs tough in second set, but Mira Costa sweeps Tuesday night in a battle of two teams ranked No. 2 in respective CIF divisions.

September 15, 2009|By David Carrillo PeƱaloza

CORONA DEL MAR — Players from the Corona del Mar High girls’ volleyball team like to toss small balls into the crowd before every home match.

Coach Darryl Gan said motivation is the reason behind the routine.

The Sea Kings on Tuesday night got their first chance of the year to continue the practice. After the announcer called each player’s name, the player threw a ball toward a fan.

Their shots on the court against Mira Costa of Manhattan Beach weren’t as on target.

The most storied girls’ volleyball program in CIF Southern Section history traveled to CdM and swept the Sea Kings, 25-12, 29-27, 25-23.

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Both schools have enjoyed ample amounts of success when it comes to section championships in the sport.

These two juggernauts rarely meet. CdM is in Division II-AA and Mira Costa is in Division I-AA, the largest in the section.

Last year, each program advanced to the championship match in their respective division and lost.

CdM and Mira Costa played their second match of the season against each other.

The Mustangs saw the dozens of CIF banners on the walls of the CdM gym. None intimidated them.

Mira Costa has won 15 section titles in girls’ volleyball, eight more than CdM. Gan, who’s in his second year with the Sea Kings, said what fans witnessed Tuesday was a first.

“I’m pretty sure that this is their first time coming here,” Gan said.

The bigger school rode out with its first victory of the season. It wasn’t as easy a 1-2-3 for Mira Costa (1-1), which opened the season ranked No. 3 in the country by prepvolleyball.com.

In the opening game, Mira Costa, ranked No. 2 in the Division I-AA preseason coaches’ poll, turned in a strong performance. In the next two games, the Sea Kings (1-1), ranked No. 2 in Division II-AA, put up a challenge.

The second game featured 13 ties and five-game point situations. CdM appeared on its way to splitting the first two games. Middle blocker Claire Ham recorded a couple of her six blocks late in the game and setter Madie Smith put the offense in motion, finishing with 30 assists.

Hitters Morgan Boukather (nine kills), Sydney Brombal (eight kills) and Hailey Senske (eight kills) got involved.

Smith, who led CdM with 17 digs, and the rest of the Sea Kings struggled with Mira Costa’s size.

The Sea Kings competed without one their stars.

Senior middle blocker Amanda Nickel was out with an ankle injury suffered in the season opener.

Nickel’s presence might have slowed down Mira Costa’s attack featuring outside hitter Falyn Fonoimoana. The senior eventually blocked her first shot, giving the Mustangs Game 2.

The 6-foot-3 outside hitter bound for USC grabbed the attention of everyone in the building. One of Fonoimoana’s match-high 17 kills startled a woman painting her nails early in Game 3.

Fonoimoana hammered a shot so hard it ricocheted off a CdM player’s body and traveled up toward the visitor’s stands.

“Playing Mira Costa is a big thing for us,” Gan said. “I think it’s good to play teams that are out of our division. I think it was good for their confidence.

“In the beginning of the year, I like to see [my players] struggle and I like to see them pick themselves up. I’m just waiting for the point where we don’t have to pick ourselves up and we just kind of start strong.”


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