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Girls' Volleyball Dream Team: Hodson's impact felt at CdM

Junior standout Dream Team Player of the Year after stellar season with Sea Kings.

January 04, 2014|By David Carrillo PeƱaloza
(Don Leach / Daily…)

On Sept. 7, Hayley Hodson received a phone call from Karch Kiraly she will never forget.

The volleyball legend called Hodson the day before her 17th birthday. He told Hodson he had a spot for her to join his U.S. under-23 women's team for an international volleyball tournament.

"He said it was in Mexico and in two weeks, and I was like, 'OK,'" said Hodson, whose junior season with the Corona del Mar High girls' volleyball team had just started, barely one match old. "With Karch Kiraly as your coach, it was an incredible opportunity I wasn't going to pass up."

Hodson accepted the opportunity of a lifetime, but she just had to make sure it was OK with her coach, Steve Astor, and teachers at CdM. They cleared the trip, allowing her to miss 10 days of school and eight matches.

The day after, on her birthday, Kiraly wished Hodson a Happy Birthday. The time away from the Sea Kings turned out to be a gift for Hodson, the Daily Pilot Newport-Mesa Dream Team Player of the Year, and her high school teammates.

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They each had to grow up very fast.

Hodson competed in the FIVB Volleyball Women's Under-23 World Championships with and against older players. The Sea Kings learned to play without their lone returning starter.

Astor called it a win-win situation for Hodson and CdM. She earned a shot to play in the tournament because it coincided with the NCAA women's volleyball season.

"None of the colleges were going to release any player during the middle of the season," Hodson said.

When Hodson returned from helping the U.S. finish fourth, CdM caught fire, winning 12 of its next 13 matches.

Hodson spearheaded the run. The run ended in the quarterfinals of the CIF Southern Section Division 1AA playoffs, much earlier than in Hodson's past two postseason trips.

Nevertheless, Hodson said the season turned out to be a success. The team went into the season with many new faces after it lost 13 seniors to graduation. The Sea Kings went on to win their eighth straight Pacific Coast League title and finish 25-6 overall in Astor's first season in charge.

"We went pretty far this year," said Hodson, whose third-seeded team bowed out in the quarterfinals at home against Mater Dei, the eventual runner-up. "Even though we didn't finish how we wanted [in the playoffs], we had a great tournament [right before] in Santa Barbara [at the Tournament of Champions by placing fifth]. It was encouraging."

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