"They knew we had an opportunity to maybe compete against Mater Dei and Santa Margarita [in the regional playoffs]," Conti said of his players, who had already swept Laguna Beach twice in the regular season. "All of those things, in my mind, could've been a distraction … to maybe look past somebody else, especially when some people think you're the favorite."
The top-seeded Sea Kings took care of business before they began a new postseason format.
Corona del Mar lost the first set to the second-seeded Breakers, but the Sea Kings came back and closed it out, 23-25, 25-15, 25-14, 25-16, at Cypress College. A couple of days after celebrating Conti's fifth boys' section title, CdM can now focus on the regional playoffs.
The Sea Kings (29-4) earned the No. 2 seed in the regional playoffs and on Tuesday they play host to Westview of San Diego at 7 p.m. Westview (33-4) is coming off an upset of powerhouse La Costa Canyon, 25-17, 21-25, 27-25, 15-25, 15-13, in the CIF San Diego Section Division II title match.
The Sea Kings and Wolverines have not faced each other this season, but they have two common opponents: Beckman and Torrey Pines.
Corona del Mar beat the Patriots twice, helping it go perfect during its Pacific Coast League title run. The Sea Kings swept Torrey Pines in a best-of-three match in the season opener at the Best of the West tournament in Poway.
Westview lost to Beckman at the Beach Cities Invitational down south, but defeated Torrey Pines twice in Palomar League play.
The Sea Kings are the favorites to get past Westview and reach the regional semifinals. If CdM moves on, it might get a rematch against Santa Margarita, a team that handed the Sea Kings one of their four losses during the regular season.
Santa Margarita plays at Jordan of Los Angeles in the opening round Tuesday. The Eagles are looking to get back on the winning side after they lost a heartbreaker to Mater Dei, 25-22, 18-25, 25-17, 20-25, 16-18, in the CIF Southern Section Division I final on Saturday.