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CdM national champ

Boys' Volleyball

Sea Kings receive top award by ESPN RISE during an assembly at the school.

June 17, 2011|By David Carrillo PeƱaloza, david.carrillo@latimes.com
(Kevin Chang / Daily…)

CORONA DEL MAR — Any road to a championship season has it bumps. For the Corona del Mar High boys' volleyball team, it hit a major one on April 21 in Los Angeles.

Loyola on that night swept the Sea Kings in three sets, on all three levels. On the bus ride home, Coach Steve Conti and his assistants were perplexed with how the players carried themselves.

Remember, the Sea Kings went out in the same fashion at home to the Cubs in the semifinals of the CIF Southern Section Division I playoffs last year. Another sweep did not seem to affect the players as much as the coaches.

"We kind of had too much of an enjoyable bus ride home," Conti, who made it a point to talk to his varsity players that there was no reason to be in a good mood.

"Sometimes there's a pivotal moment within your season where something occurs and clicks and connects where you get yourself to a new level. That was one of the most pivotal points in our season. Believe it or not, it was a loss that got us to where we are."

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The Sea Kings never lost again, and on Friday, they reached the top of the volleyball landscape. They earned the tag national champions for the first time in the program's history.

ESPN RISE showed up to campus during lunchtime and crowned 18 players and six coaches from CdM as being part of the best program in the nation.

Organizers of the event passed out T-shirts, medals and foam fingers with the No. 1 to players and coaches. They wore the T-shirts, then the medals around their necks. Some slipped their hand into the foam finger and waved it toward the fans, students, teachers, parents and politicians attending the ceremony.

There was also a banner, a plaque and a trophy unveiled in the quad for a team finishing 32-4 this season. The man responsible for CdM's magical run just stood in front of each prize.

Conti admired each one, especially the trophy. This one was bigger than the titles won by the Sea Kings this year in the Pacific Coast League, and in both the CIF Southern Section Division II and CIF Southern California Regional Division II playoffs.

When Conti got his hands on the trophy with a glass bowl mounted on top, he tapped the bowl to make sure it was not plastic. The trophy was so large that it reminded him of the one given to the winner of the Orange Bowl in college football.

"I expect to see oranges in it or something," Conti said with a smile.

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