HUNTINGTON BEACH — At the apex of the match, Edison High volleyball player Torey Darin timed the apex of his jump to block the big swing of Corona del Mar's Parker Brown.
It was a huge stuff on CdM's match point in the CIF Southern Section Division I quarterfinal, it was 24-24, and the Edison High gym was rocking.
But just three points later, Brown's aggressive nature paid off, as the sophomore nailed the match-winning kill into the middle of the court and second-seeded CdM advanced with a 25-23, 25-18, 21-25, 27-25 victory.
"Parker is pretty fearless," Corona del Mar Coach Steve Conti said. "He went after that swing, which we wanted him to do. I kind of felt at the end of this fourth game we were playing not to lose, not really playing to win. Even though Parker got blocked on that match-point swing, I liked the way he did it. He did it being aggressive, he went after it, and that's got to be our mind-set. We can't play not to lose; [Edison] is too good to play conservative like that."
Conti will need to see more of that aggression out of his team Tuesday, when the Sea Kings play host to Loyola of Los Angeles in a Division I semifinal match. Loyola dashed dreams of a second Battle of the Bay this year by beating Newport Harbor in five sets in another Saturday quarterfinal.
The Sea Kings beat Loyola in four sets in a nonleague match at CdM April 24.
CdM (23-8) and Edison (21-9) were familiar opponents, having played twice before. Edison won in five in its own gym in March, and Saturday night's match seemed destined to go to five sets too after the Sea Kings nearly lost a two-set advantage.
Blocking came up huge for the Sea Kings in the second set, as they used three blocks from junior middle Spencer Haly as part of a 6-0 run that gave the visitors a 17-9 advantage. They would win the set and go up 2-0.
"We knew Torey, I mean [senior outside Joey Booth and I] both play club with Torey [at Balboa Bay]," said CdM senior outside Weston Nielsen, who finished with a team-high 15 kills and added four blocks. "We knew what his shots are, what he's going to do. He's really hard to block, so we kind of emphasized closing our block with our middles [Haly and senior John Christian]. I think when we closed our block, we got a lot of touches on him. Our middles were really there for us and the defense was really scooping everything up, so it made blocking a lot easier."
But Edison came with its own strong block in the third set, keyed by senior middle Nick Capriccio, and took a 20-17 lead in set four. Darin led all players with 17 kills.
"We started to play a little nervous and started to play a little careful," Booth said. "Our passing broke down and we lost our momentum."
CdM rallied for a 24-22 edge on a block from Brown and Christian but couldn't convert its first three match points. But a kill from Haly set up another match point, and Brown converted this time.
Haly had a strong match with three solo blocks and six block assists, while junior setter Nick Curci dished up 17 assists and junior Brennan Anderson had 11 digs.
The Sea Kings were well-balanced offensively as well, with Nielsen plus five other players including Brown (nine), Booth (nine), Haly (five), Dean (four) and Christian (four) with at least four kills.
"We're just trying to focus on our play," Conti said. "We're definitely going to need to play better in this next round, to have a chance to maybe even play next Saturday [in the Division I championship match at Cypress College]."