No one figured a match featuring two of the county’s top-five ranked girls’ volleyball teams would be so lopsided, but Corona del Mar’s 15-3, 15-3, 15-4 nonleague victory over visiting Huntington Beach on Wednesday night exposed a wide gap between the No. 3 Sea Kings and the No. 4 Oilers.
Corona del Mar’s performance was a powerful testament to its recent transformation under Coach Lance Stewart, and it sent an equally strong message to the rest of the county.
“You can just tell something’s different, they have this look,” said Melissa Wendt of Huntington Beach, who figured that look could be traced to the bitter taste left when Laguna Beach upset the Sea Kings in the Orange County Tournament Championship this month.
“It’s like they (Sea Kings) want to get back on top, get back to the top of their game,” Wendt said.
Stewart and his staff had an idea what was missing.
“We weren’t getting the response we wanted from the players,” Stewart said. “We had to do something, so we looked at ourselves.”
So starting Monday, Stewart and his staff began to treat each mistake and mental lapse firmly.
“We got a little more involved in practices, a little more intense. We were skating a little before. We used to let a mistake go by in practice. We’re not doing that anymore.”
Simple plays that had eluded Corona del Mar before Wednesday were made: “As a result, we blitzed them,” said Stewart.
The change has also refocused the team’s attention.
“We were so fired up for this game,” said senior outside hitter Jennifer Stroffe, who led the Sea Kings with 16 kills. “I’d say we played better as a team tonight than we have all year. I think we took them by surprise, but I still think we can play better.”
Corona del Mar (4-0) couldn’t have been much better against Huntington Beach (4-3). The Sea Kings opened the match by scoring nine consecutive points--the Oilers couldn’t even manage a sideout during that span--behind the serving of Kristen Campbell in the first game and never looked back.
“Their serving was really strong, and their block was really up there,” said Wendt, whose five kills matched teammate Jill Meyers’ total.
As a team, Corona del Mar had 43 kills to the Oilers’ 15. Kim Coleman added 10 kills for Corona del Mar and teammate Caitlin Pickart had nine.
In other nonleague matches:
Los Angeles Brentwood 3, St. Margaret’s 0--Monica Girard had nine kills and three aces for visiting St. Margaret’s in a 15-9, 16-14, 15-4 loss.
Liberty Christian 3, Southern California Christian 1--Junior setter Sara Anderson had 16 assists and six aces for visiting Liberty Christian (5-0), which won, 11-15, 15-2, 15-10, 15-5. Liz Gaez had eight kills for SCC (3-2).
Savanna 3, Loara 0--Sharon Burgner had 10 kills and three blocks for host Savanna (2-2) in a 15-7, 15-6, 15-13 victory.
Valencia 3, Katella 2--Carrie Ritchie had 15 kills to lead host Valencia (3-2) to a 15-9, 5-15, 15-4, 9-15, 15-5 victory. Kellie Alva had 15 kills for Katella (3-3).
In the Sea View League:
Newport Harbor 3, Woodbridge 1--Misty May had 21 kills for Newport Harbor as it defeated Woodbridge, 15-5, 15-10, 12-15, 15-0. Newport Harbor is scheduled to leave today for Chicago to participate in the Nike Challenge, a tournament that will feature many of the top volleyball teams in the country.
Orange 3, Fullerton 2--Mary Pezzetti had 16 kills and Charlene Conley added 15 for visiting Orange (4-1), which won, 15-9, 15-1, 15-17, 15-12, 15-7.