It's pretty much a brand new boys’ volleyball team, but the goal remains the same for Corona del Mar High.
And that’s to win a CIF Southern Section championship.
The two-time defending Division 1 champion took an important step toward the three-peat with a 25-16, 25-9, 19-25, 25-14 victory at Newbury Park on Tuesday night.
“I thought we served incredibly well and the first two sets went smoother than I expected,” CdM first-year head coach Sam Stafford said. “We put a lot of pressure on them and took them out of system.”
Third-seeded CdM (22-7) moves onto the quarterfinals and will host Santa Barbara (20-6) on Saturday. The Dons outlasted Tesoro in five sets in the first round.
CdM had a relatively easy time in its opener, only experiencing a blip on the radar screen in the third set. The Sea Kings beat Newbury Park for the second time this season, the first came in the Silver Bracket final of the Best of the West Invitational in San Diego on March 9.
“I thought it was a combination of them playing well and we let up a bit,” Stafford said. “Newbury Park played with a lot of pride and passion. Their backs were against the wall. We took the foot off the pedal. We knew they would respond. No team wants to get swept on its home floor. We responded to their response. That's really what it came down to.”
USC-bound Adam Flood had 16 kills to lead CdM.
Newbury Park (19-8) entered as a two-time undefeated Marmonte League champion and having won 11 of its past 13 matches.
“We had a real good warmup,” Flood said. “We had a long drive and we were just really focused. We were able to stay in system and Bryce [Dvorak] could really spread it around on offense. We are hard team to stop when Bryce can pick and choose where it goes.”
Dvorak finished with 33 assists and four digs. Connor Zylstra added nine digs.
Nick Alacano contributed 10 kills in a balanced effort for the Sea Kings.
“We passed and served well,” Alacano said. “The energy was on our side.”
The Sea Kings need two more victories to reach their fifth consecutive championship match. Even with so many new faces and a new coach, Flood thinks anything is possible for this team.
“We try to be 100% invested on every play,” Flood said. “We hold each accountable and hold each other to a high standard. We are a good team and we are a deep team. It's a thing of beauty.”
CdM is not looking ahead, but Surf League rival and top-seeded Newport Harbor looms for a possible third meeting this season in the final. CdM split its two league matches with the Sailors this year, ending Newport Harbor’s 30-match winning streak on April 17.
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