HUNTINGTON BEACH — With his Estancia High boys' volleyball team outside the gym, Coach Ricardo doMonte stood and watched Marina warm up on the court. He observed the host Vikings swing the ball, their timing, and how they distributed the ball.
"Then I saw that we were in trouble," doMonte said.
The Eagles faced their toughest nonleague opponent to date and suffered their fourth straight loss in three sets. Marina swept, 25-9, 25-8, 25-4, on Thursday night.
The contest was the Eagles' fourth in eight days. The more they compete, doMonte said the better they're going to be in the long run.
"We have a very young team," doMonte said. "[We] only [have] one player [Kaena McReynolds] with a little bit more experience because he plays club. Everyone else is pretty much like brand new to the game."
The first-year Eagles coach is familiar with Estancia. He coached against the Eagles last season when doMonte led rival Costa Mesa. The Mustangs' only two wins last season came in the Battle for the Bell series against Estancia.
Now on the other side of town, doMonte has a lot of work ahead of him. The Eagles went winless last season in 15 matches, 10 in Orange Coast League play. They have one more nonleague match left, Friday at Magnolia at 3:15 p.m., before the Eagles open league at Costa Mesa on March 27. In the meantime, they have time to work on the fundamentals.
Thursday's match featured two programs that are coming off last-place finishes in their respective leagues. Marina, from the Sunset League, looked like a powerhouse against Estancia.
The Eagles' struggles against Marina (6-2) began dealing with the serve. The Vikings recorded 23 service aces, Carlos Rivera produced five, while Enzo Boggio, Andy Shay and David Graham each finished with four.
"These guys have not been facing fast jump serves with consistency," doMonte said. "The best thing I can tell my players is that because of the pressure situation they are in, I ask them to bump the ball as high as they can. Unfortunately, we have a low ceiling [at Marina]. If you're struggling with the pass, I always [tell] my players, no matter how old they are, 'Get yourself out of trouble by bumping the ball high and let the setter deal with that kind of pass.'"
The limited times Riley Brockman had to set the offense the Eagles enjoyed success. Brockman finished with nine assists, most going to McReynolds and Chad Barries, who collected five and two kills, respectively.
Evan Pettingill had seven digs, but the Eagles struggled slowing down Marina's balanced attack. Colin McCallister led the Vikings with seven kills, and Boggio and Rivera contributed five apiece.
"It was a good tune up for us, getting set for the Orange County Championships next week," Marina Coach Rob Kijewski said.