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Sea Kings End Wait by Beating Santa Ynez

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

It took one year and nine match points, but Corona del Mar finally grabbed its Southern Section boys’ volleyball title.

After three-time defending champion Santa Ynez fought off eight match points in the fifth game, Corona del Mar’s Dennis Alshuler ended it with a spike from the back row, setting off the Sea Kings’ celebratory dog pile in the Division III championship match Saturday at Cypress College.

Alshuler had 26 kills and four blocks and team co-captain Greg Burden had 13 kills and 39 digs to help top-seeded Corona del Mar win, 5-15, 15-8, 12-15, 16-14, 15-13.

Corona del Mar (15-5) won its first section title since 1989 despite the efforts of Santa Ynez’s Larry Witt, who had 43 kills.

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And the Sea Kings did it dramatically, erasing eight match points in the fourth game and rallying from a three-point deficit to win, 16-14, forcing a fifth game.

“We talked about just wanting it more,” Burden said. “Last year, we were playing not to lose instead of just going after it.”

Santa Ynez (16-3), which had reached the section final for the fifth consecutive season, beat Corona del Mar last season, 15-13, in the fifth game of the Division III final. And Saturday, the Pirates moved to the brink of winning a fourth title.

But Santa Ynez served for the match eight times in the fourth game, and eight times Corona del Mar found a way to side out.

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Corona del Mar’s Greg Coon (20 kills, nine blocks) and Kevin Hansen (71 assists, three blocks) blocked Santa Ynez’s Charlie Witt to erase the first match point. Then Alshuler had three kills for side outs and Burden had two kills as the Sea Kings got as close as one, 14-13.

Coon spiked for a point to tie the score, then he teamed with Greg Stampley to block Mike Mexico to give the Sea Kings their first game point, 15-14. Stampley (20 kills) spiked off the block to send the match to a fifth game.

The Sea Kings continued their hot streak in the fifth game with Burden, Mike Jackson (26 digs) and Stampley (24 digs) keeping the ball in play.

That was a problem for Corona del Mar in the first game, when Larry Witt had 13 kills and almost single-handedly snuffed out the Sea Kings, 15-5.

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“We had no answer for him,” Sea Kings Coach Steve Conti said.

Santa Ynez’s 6-foot-7 setter, Marcus Gilmour (69 assists, six blocks) occasionally went to Chris Pena (18 kills, nine blocks) and Mexico (14 kills) to keep Corona del Mar honest.

But in the fifth game, Larry Witt tried to carry the Pirates with 12 kills, and Corona del Mar took a 14-11 lead. However, Santa Ynez and began to get side outs consistently, erasing eight match points.

Then Alshuler finally ended the wild, 2-hour 40-minute match.

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“Corona del Mar executed when they had to,” Santa Ynez Coach Chip Fenenga said. “They didn’t panic at all. It could’ve gone either way and it was repeat of last year’s match. The score just ended up a little different.”


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