Headed in right direction

Boys' Volleyball

Coach Conti's balanced CdM squad faces Laguna Beach for the CIF Division II title.

May 20, 2011|By David Carrillo PeƱaloza,

The time has come for Corona del Mar High and Laguna Beach to meet in a CIF Southern Section boys' volleyball title match.

The two rival schools have never played each other on this stage when it comes to boys' action. The winner becomes the first boys' program in the section to seven crowns.

Saturday's Division II final pins No. 1 against No. 2 at Cypress College at 4:30 p.m. This is how the playoff committee drew it up during the pairings, giving CdM the top seed and Laguna Beach the second seed.


To CdM Coach Steve Conti, this is how it should play out.

"Often our guys feel like Newport Harbor is our biggest cross-town rival and this would be the next closest thing, playing Laguna Beach," Conti said.

The Sea Kings (28-4) have shown all year that they are the team to beat in this division because of their depth.

The Breakers (20-10) are the defending champions. The title goes through them.

Laguna Beach will try to be the first Division II team all season to knock off CdM. All of the Sea Kings' four losses have come against Division I opponents.

The Sea Kings opened the first round with a bye. Their next three playoff matches might as well have been byes. No team in the playoffs has taken a set from CdM.

Going four for four in sweeps during CdM's playoff run is possible. The Sea Kings and Breakers played twice during the regular season, each time CdM swept.

Conti just wants to hoist another section title plaque. He has done it four times before with the boys.

"It feels really good," Conti said of having another chance after CdM beat Trabuco Hills, 25-16, 25-23, 25-13, in the semifinals on Tuesday to reach its ninth section final appearance in 16 years under Conti.

"There [are] a lot of teams that started the season in September and began playing in February and March that would kill for this opportunity. Hopefully, the guys will embrace the opportunity that we're in right now."

Parker Brown is not taking the title match for granted. The junior outside hitter has never played in one and neither have any of his teammates.

It has been four years since CdM last competed in a section title match. The Sea Kings triumphed in 2007. The program has a 2-1 record in Division II title matchups.

This title matchup is different for CdM compared to its past 10. The Sea Kings' campus is 10 miles away from Laguna Beach.

While they have never faced each other for a section championship, both boys' programs have a history.

"A lot of these guys know each other. A lot of these guys play for the same volleyball clubs," Conti said. "Growing up together and playing against each other definitely adds some intrigue to the match."

The buildup is there between Laguna Beach and CdM. They have battled in 51 best-of-five matches, seven coming in the playoffs.

The Breakers lead the overall series, 29-22, but CdM has a 4-3 edge in the postseason.

There also used to be a time in the early 1990s when Laguna Beach's coach, Lance Stewart, led CdM to two section titles in three seasons. The hardware was for the girls' program.

One of those crowns came 19 years ago with Stewart guiding the Sea Kings past Laguna Beach, his alma mater.

Laguna Beach and CdM have met four times for the girls' section title. Now, it is time for the boys to play for one.

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