Corona del Mar’s Matt Olson goes up for a block against Santa Barbara’s Woll Rottman.(Christine Cotter)
Corona del Mar’s Nick Alacano is challenged at the net by Santa Barbara’s Riley Roach.(Christine Cotter)
Corona del Mar’s Austin Chandler passes against Santa Barbara.(Christine Cotter)
Corona del Mar’s Shane Premer goes up for a kill on Saturday./(Christine Cotter)
Corona del Mar’s Adam Flood goes up for a kill against Santa Barbara’s Ben Sherman in the quarterfinals of the CIF Southern Section Division 1 volleyball playoffs.(Christine Cotter)
Corona del Mar’s Adam Flood rises above the Santa Barbara defense in the quarterfinals of the CIF Southern Section Division 1 playoffs.(Christine Cotter)
The Corona del Mar High boys’ volleyball team had to have its guard up coming into Saturday evening’s quarterfinal match against Santa Barbara.
Earlier in the season, the No. 3-ranked Sea Kings faced the No. 6-ranked Dons in the Best of the West Tournament in San Diego. Santa Barbara won the first meeting.
Naturally, the Sea Kings looked to make changes after dropping one match to the Dons, even if it was in the best-of-three format.
Some players simply are matchup-proof.
Senior outside hitter and Stanford commit Will Rottman had 39 kills, and the visiting Dons upset the No. 3-seeded Sea Kings 26-24, 19-25, 25-23, 25-22 in the quarterfinals of the CIF Southern Section Division 1 playoffs.
“It feels great,” Rottman said of eliminating the two-time defending Division 1 champions. “I feel like we play with a chip on our shoulder. Coming from Santa Barbara, we get overlooked a lot. It’s really fun to come down here and beat a powerhouse like this in the quarters.”
Henry Haber handed out 44 assists to go with 2½ blocks for the Dons (21-6). Sam Meister added 10 kills and two blocks, including a solo block of USC-bound outside hitter Adam Flood to give Santa Barbara match point.
“I’m so stoked,” Meister said. “I’m not surprised that we won because we came in with intensity. We started off a little slow in the first games, but I knew that we would pick it up because we’re that kind of team. We can pick it up when we’re down.”
Santa Barbara will host No. 2-seeded Manhattan Beach Mira Costa in a semifinal match on Wednesday. Mira Costa also earned a road victory in sweeping Huntington Beach 25-13, 25-22, 25-17.
“Rottman was good,” Sea Kings coach Sam Stafford said. “I actually thought that their libero [Matt Suh], he was the best player on the court tonight. I know Rottman had 30 to 40 kills, but their libero was unbelievable tonight.
“I thought that they outfought us a little bit because they were able to dig and transition and score a lot of points.”
Flood paced CdM (22-8) with 21 kills, and Bryce Dvorak had 55 assists and 1½ blocks. In the middle, Austin Chandler had 10 kills and three blocks, and Matt Olson had nine kills and one block.
“We were effective in the middle,” Stafford said. “Matt and Austin did a good job. I thought when we could set them, we set them and we scored a lot of points, but they were able to dig a lot of our pins, and they were able to make some plays. We probably could have served a bit better, but it is what it is.”
Opposite Nick Alacano had 10 kills and two blocks, and outside hitter Shane Premer added seven kills for the Sea Kings.
At the end of a career in which he was able to win a CIF championship with his brother, Tyler, and serve as a captain in his senior year, Flood said that being part of the CdM boys’ volleyball program was unforgettable.
“It was an absolutely amazing experience,” Flood said. “I wouldn’t change anything about our season. We played really well. We progressed as a team. We got better.
“If you looked at us at the beginning of the year, we were a very different team than we are now. I’m super happy about our improvements, and it was just an amazing season and an amazing time at CdM.”
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