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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,

Conti called out Spencer Haly's name, first describing him as a man. Haly sure looks like one at 6-foot-6.

The middle blocker played like a giant against Laguna Beach. In the biggest match of his four-year career at CdM, Haly produced his best outing.

The senior made sure to get Conti his first section title in four years and his first before going to Stanford to play volleyball. Haly led the Sea Kings with a career-high 20 kills on 27 attempts, with only one error, two solo blocks and four block assists.


No one on the other side of the net matched up with Haly. Size, experience, you name it, Haly had the advantage.

The only thing that nagged Haly was a left patella tendon he partially tore before the season. The trainer took care of Haly, taping his knee.

Now, all the Sea Kings needed to do was string together some crisp passes.

When CdM began passing the ball well in the second, third and fourth sets, Laguna Beach Coach Lance Stewart expected the worse.

"They just got it going," said Stewart, praising CdM's two setters, Nick Curci and Joe Ctvrtlik who finished with 27 assists apiece. "I knew if they got it going, we were in trouble."

Despite coming back to win the first set, Stewart said he never feels comfortable playing CdM, whether his team is up one or two sets.

Maybe it had something to do with the fact that Stewart once coached at CdM and led the school to two section titles.

He downplayed that, saying he guided the girls' program, not the boys, and it was a long time ago, 18 years ago.

Stewart was living in the now. He and the Breakers were trying repeat as section champions for the first time since the program won three straight from 1981 to 1983. Stewart began that run 30 years ago as a player.

A second one as the coach at his alma mater ended when he saw Laguna Beach had no answers for CdM's balanced attack.

While the Breakers had one standout, left-hander hitter Robbie McKnight (22 kills), the Sea Kings displayed a handful.

Corona del Mar's three biggest senior hitters Saturday, Haly, Brennan Anderson and Evan Dean, combined to commit just one error.

Anderson finished with 11 kills on 24 attempts, no errors, and added 17 digs. The dig total, Conti said, probably tripled Anderson's highest of the year.

Dean, an opposite bound for Pepperdine, had six kills, outside hitter Parker Brown contributed 11 kills and 10 digs, and middle blocker Jack Reed produced nine kills, six block assists and one solo block.

"The stats that you see here are the indication of what we've been doing all year," Conti said before pointing to the regular-season finale that allowed CdM to believe it could make a run at a section title. "This team kind of came out on fire to start the year and I think there was a certain point where we felt like we were playing poorly, but we kind of may have kind of slowed down that growth process. I think the match that kind of turned it around was that Newport Harbor match [in the Battle of the Bay], when we were able to kind of beat a team that beat us twice and give us that little extra edge going into the playoffs."

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