Martino wants CdM to improve

Standout outside hitter led CdM to a runner-up finish at the OC Championships that ended Monday.

March 27, 2014|By David Carrillo PeƱaloza

Joey Martino spent his first year with the Corona del Mar High boys' volleyball team sidelined with a back brace. He wore two, a plastic one during the day and a rubber one while he slept.

The devices to support his back for six months felt a little uncomfortable. Martino suffered a stress fracture in his back as an eighth-grader, a year after picking up the sport.

Martino no longer has the braces, which he also credits to improving his posture. As a senior, he stands tall at 6-foot-2.


With a healthy Martino on the court, opponents now brace whenever he leaps to pound the ball away.

"He's gotten better each year and it seems like he's really connected this year," Sea Kings Coach Steve Conti said of his outside hitter. "Kids expect to be superstars at such a young age. He's a great example of an athlete who's paid a lot of dues to get to this point."

Martino led CdM to a runner-up finish in the top division at the Orange County Championships on Monday, marking the Sea Kings' second top-three finish at a major tournament this season. The Sea Kings lost to Huntington Beach in three sets, the same team that ended their run during the semifinals of the Best of the West gold division tournament in Poway on March 15.

Each time, the Oilers, ranked No. 1 in the CIF Southern Section Division 1 poll, swept No. 2 CdM. Conti called out his team after the most recent match, saying his players need to have more fight in them.

Martino, who made the all-tournament team at the OC Championships by totaling 43 kills, 10 digs, six blocks and four service aces in four matches, agrees with his coach.

"We're looking for the opportunity to play them again," Martino said of the Oilers, the defending CIF Southern Section Division 1 champions. "They have a lot of experience playing together. We have more room to grow."

The only setbacks CdM has suffered this season are to the Oilers. Other than that, the Sea Kings have won 11 times, beating the likes of Newbury Park, ranked No. 6 in Division 1, and Laguna Beach, No. 3 in Division 2, and Honolulu Punahou, one of the top programs in Hawaii.

Martino and the Sea Kings will see Punahou again. They travel to Hawaii to play Punahou and Moanalua on April 11-12. The program makes the trip to Hawaii every other year, and Martino enjoys it. He said the team grows closer outside of the gym by hanging out at the beach, surfing, and running up to Diamond Head.

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