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Boys' Volleyball: Sea Kings in charge

In match featuring two of the top teams in CIF, No. 2 CdM beats No. 4 Loyola.

May 01, 2014|By David Carrillo PeƱaloza
(KEVIN CHANG / Daily…)

Corona del Mar High Coach Steve Conti says he was a little bit smarter with his scheduling.

Rather than start the season with Los Angeles Loyola again, he decided to push it back toward the end of it. Almost half of his boys' volleyball team plays a sport in the winter, and against Loyola, Conti preferred CdM to be at full strength.

After last season's opener at Loyola, where Conti said it looked like his young Sea Kings had never played volleyball before, losing in three sets, the move made sense.

At this stage of the regular season, with one week to go, CdM played host to Loyola on Wednesday. The matchup between the No. 2- and No. 4-ranked teams in the CIF Southern Section Division 1 poll carried major playoff seeding implications.

Barring a major meltdown, CdM is primed to earn the No. 2 seed after it topped Loyola, 22-25, 25-23, 25-11, 25-21. The Sea Kings' first win against the Cubs in four years most likely guarantees they don't have to face No. 1 Huntington Beach, the only team that's beaten CdM, until the CIF Southern Section Division 1 finale, if both programs make it that far.

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"I don't think there's a team that probably wants to be on the same side [of the playoff bracket] with Huntington," said Conti, referring to the defending section champion, which has swept CdM twice this season. "Since [No. 3] Redondo [Union] beat Loyola earlier, if we would've lost to [the Cubs], chances are we probably would've moved to that No. 4 spot. It's not about the seedings. It's really just about going out and playing good volleyball at this point of the year, and trying to peak and play your best at the end of the season."

With three matches left before for the postseason begins, CdM (21-2) continues to roll. The Sea Kings won their 11th in a row, dropping only two sets during the stretch. Outside of their contests against Huntington Beach, CdM has lost four sets all season.

The opening set on Wednesday went to Loyola (18-3). Both teams played tentative, and none went ahead by more than three points. The Sea Kings, leading 21-19, allowed the Cubs to close it out on a 6-1 run. Afterward, Conti told his assistants, "I didn't feel like we played with a lot of confidence. We didn't play like a 20-2 team in that first set."

You can attribute some of that to Loyola's success. The Cubs have reached the section finale in each of the past two seasons, losing to Manhattan Beach Mira Costa two years ago and Huntington Beach last year.

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