The Newport Beach community has long been brought together by the Battle of the Bay.
Sporting events between Corona del Mar High and Newport Harbor are always marked on the calendar, serving as both a source of competition and social interaction.
For four years, Matt Olson, who played both basketball and volleyball at CdM, was a part of the rivalry. His tragic death last month dealt a blow to all that knew him, and many are still working to honor his memory.
Sam Stafford, who coaches both the boys’ and girls’ volleyball teams at CdM, reached out to Sailors girls’ volleyball coach Dan Glenn prior to Thursday’s Battle of the Bay girls’ volleyball match.
He proposed that the teams could wear shirts honoring Olson in warmups. Glenn, who wore a shirt with Olson’s No. 23 inside of a volleyball on the front and the words, ‘Wish you were here,’ on the back, happily obliged.
“Sam called me about that,” Glenn said. “I said, ‘That is a great, great idea.’ I was really fired up on it.
“[Matt is] somebody who was one of the good ones. It’s really, really sad, but it’s one of those things that it shows how precious life is.”
Stafford was thankful that Glenn also wanted to participate in the gesture.
“We both agreed that this match and this rivalry meant a lot to Matt,” Stafford said. “I think the support that both communities showed the Olson family on going through what happened, it kind of bonded our community a little bit.”
There remained a match to be played after warmups, and CdM continued its run of dominance in the series.
Junior outside hitter Molly Joyce had 20 kills and 2½ blocks to lead the visiting Sea Kings to a 25-20, 25-22, 25-19 sweep of the Sailors in Thursday’s Sunset Conference crossover match.
CdM has not lost to Newport Harbor since 2009, when the Sailors went on to win the CIF Southern Section Division I-AA and the CIF State Division I championships.
The Sea Kings (6-3) have won four in a row after winning the Silver Bracket in the Dave Mohs Memorial Tournament on Saturday. CdM earned a victory over Huntington Beach along the way, which might signal that the Sea Kings are still contenders in the Surf League without 6-foot-4 outside hitter Kendall Kipp, who is now at Stanford.
“I don’t know if we had as high expectations in the beginning of the year because we didn’t have Kendall, even though we had the rest of the team,” Joyce said, adding she now believes that they can make a run of their own.
Kipp was relied upon to finish off big points last season. As the Sailors made a late run to get back in the first set, Joyce came up with two kills out of the back row to play the closer role for CdM in Game 1.
“I don’t think there is another girl that can be like Kendall at the high school level,” Stafford said. “There can be, but it doesn’t happen very often.
“Molly is a big part of our offense, and she did a great job out of the back row and in the front row tonight. In system and out of system, she took some pretty aggressive swings.”
Nikki Senske had 13 kills. Bella Pouliot handed out 29 assists to go with two service aces. Michelle Won had three aces, and Reese Olson added two aces.
Passing out of the back row by Senske and Won helped the Sea Kings remain in system.
“We play club together [at Tstreet Volleyball Club],” Senske said of Won. “It’s super awesome. I trust her on the court. We have this bond, I guess, so we’re on the court, always digging for everything.”
Emma Coatsworth, Emma Fults and Maggie Herrington led the Sailors (3-7) with five kills each. Gabbi Higgs had four kills and 3½ blocks. Tegan Glenn distributed 13 assists, and Jasmine Amirie added 10 assists.
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