The Corona del Mar High boys’ volleyball team is the two-time defending CIF Southern Section Division 1 champion, but even the Sea Kings are not immune to struggles with confidence.
After failing to advance to the Gold Bracket in Poway’s Best of the West Invitational over the weekend, CdM dropped from No. 5 to No. 10 in the combined Division 1 and 2 poll.
A myriad of injuries had plagued the Sea Kings, with three starters missing from the lineup during the Orange County Championships earlier this month.
Adam Flood (dislocated right ring finger) and Max Dunk (illness and ankle), the Sea Kings’ college-committed outside hitters, have returned and are working their way back into game shape.
On Tuesday night, the Sea Kings finally put it all together, and it resulted in a marquee victory under first-year coach Sam Stafford.
Flood had a team-high 13 kills to lead CdM to a 25-18, 26-24, 17-25, 25-19 upset win over No. 2 Manhattan Beach Mira Costa in a nonleague match at home.
“I think it’s just weathering the storm,” said Flood, a USC commit. “We were able to come together as a team in this match and really play as one unit. The whole match, we kept that same mentality and that same level of play.”
“I think with our team, it’s really about confidence,” senior middle blocker Matt Olson said. “We know how good we can play when we’re playing at our best, but sometimes, we kind of doubt ourselves, especially during our tournament.
“Tonight, we came out ready to play.”
Olson had 11 kills and three blocks. He was a go-to target for Bryce Dvorak (40 assists) late in the match, as eight of his kills came in the third and fourth sets.
Stafford agreed with Olson’s assessment, saying that his boys were fired up to play a perennial power like the Mustangs (7-2).
“I thought Matt was good,” Stafford said. “He was really good Saturday when we played at the Best of the West, and he kind of just continued his play from the tournament. It was nice to get him the ball a little bit, and we’re going to need him.”
No one was more excited for Tuesday’s contest than Connor Zylstra. The senior libero has been filling in for Jaden Glenn (dislocated shoulder) for the past two weeks. Zylstra provided 18 digs in his first home match as a member of the varsity team.
“This has been fun,” Zylstra said. “I just love being here. This is my first year on varsity. This is my first game that I have played in the CdM gym as a member of the varsity team.
“I’m just having the time of my life right here. It’s been fun.”
Nick Alacano also had nine kills for CdM. Long Beach State commit Max Dunk added six kills, and Glen Linden contributed three kills and 1½ blocks.
Mira Costa, which lost to Newport Harbor in the semifinals of the Gold Division at the Best of the West, was led by Hawaii-bound setter Jack Walmer, who had 37 assists and 3½ blocks.
Ben Coordt had a team-high 13 kills for the Mustangs. Ethan Young added nine kills and two service aces, and Dain Johnson chipped in with seven kills and two blocks.