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Kings of Rings

Boys' Volleyball

Corona del Mar rebounds from first-set setback to capture seventh CIF title after four-set win over Laguna Beach Saturday.

May 21, 2011|By David Carrillo PeƱaloza, david.carrillo@latimes.com
(Kent Treptow / Daily…)

CYPRESS — Out of all nine CIF Southern Section boys' volleyball title appearances with Corona del Mar High, the latest one stressed out Coach Steve Conti. At first, he did not know why.

When a reporter joked if he felt stressed Saturday because it was supposed to be the end of the world, Conti just grinned. No, it had nothing to with such shenanigans.

All of Conti's stress was because the Sea Kings were supposed to win Division II. Not just win, but sweep Laguna Beach.

Who cared if the Breakers were the defending champions?

"I think it was that we had already beaten this team twice," said Conti, whose Sea Kings did more than just beat the Breakers, they swept them each time in the regular season.

"People thought it was just going to be an easy win for us and that's just not the mindset I wanted my team to have. It concerned me that they were going to be hearing about what other people kind of felt what was going to happen in this match."

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The opening set did not turn out the way many predicted for CdM, the top seed. Second-seeded Laguna Beach stole the first set, causing its players to celebrate like they just won the match.

The Sea Kings had just dropped their first set in the postseason. That did not mean they were about to drop the match.

The way CdM responded only impressed Conti, who watched his team regain its composure and then winning form.

The Sea Kings never lost another set. They prevailed, 23-25, 25-15, 25-14, 25-16, at Cypress College. The players rushed the court and the fans soon followed from the stands.

Conti just smiled, shaking hands with almost everyone in the gym. He just won his fifth section championship in 16 seasons with the CdM boys, the second most in the section by a boys' coach at one school.

Beating rival Laguna Beach (20-11) felt good to Conti and his Sea Kings (29-4). The coaches and players from each side know each other well, yet the matchup between CdM and Laguna Beach in a boys' section title match was a first.

The two schools are volleyball powerhouses and they are just 10 miles apart.

The Sea Kings distanced themselves a little bit from the Breakers when it comes to section championships won. Corona del Mar is the first of the two boys' programs to seven crowns.

When the Sea Kings got their hands on the plaque, they gathered to raise it. They all had a hand in bringing home the hardware.

"I'm just blessed to have the team that I did," said Conti before singling out one player on a loaded roster.

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