Once a player cracks the rotation of Corona del Mar High's boys' volleyball team, it usually does not take long before they have a nickname.
Sea Kings public address announcer Brent Ogden began referring to Kevin Kobrine as "The Skywalker" during his sophomore season.
Undoubtedly, Kobrine likely received the nickname for his ability to attack over the block. His kills can be seen coming from a galaxy far, far away.
Now a senior, Kobrine says that the title follows him everywhere. Does everyone deserve a nickname? Maybe not, but Sea Kings coach Steve Conti is sure that Kobrine's was born as a result of superior athleticism.
Conti said that Kobrine, who stands a towering 6 feet 5, has a wingspan that is longer than his height. The 23-year head of the Sea Kings was just getting started in talking about the gifts that Kobrine possesses.
"He's been blessed with some unique gifts," Conti said. "Being tall and long, being a very good jumper, and having a whip of an arm.
"The way that he snaps on the ball is as good as any player I've ever coached. He hits a heavy ball, but the way the ball comes off his hand, it just comes off like lightning."
Conti added that Kobrine has taken a step forward this year. He has finished his attacking opportunities at a higher rate, and he has widened the range of shots he can hit.
The Sea Kings' opposite committed to UCLA in his junior year. In Conti's mind, there was never much doubt about where Kobrine would end up, as his brother, Sam, preceded him in signing with the Bruins.
"I think that UCLA was just sort of a dream school for both boys," Conti said. "There were a lot of other schools that were interested in Kevin, but I think as long as he got that offer from UCLA, that was going to be the place that he ended up, too."
At CdM, Kobrine has been part of one of the deepest programs in high school volleyball. Understanding what it takes to make the playing rotation of a top-flight program can come in handy when he heads off to college.
A program like UCLA can stock talent, but there are still only six spots on the floor at any time. The Bruins signed several local hitters from this year's recruiting class, including Newport Harbor's Cole Pender and Laguna Beach's Sam Burgi.
"I can only hope that I play a lot and hope that I'm successful," Kobrine said. "I'm going to try as hard as I can, put a lot of work in and a lot of practice, but at the end of the day, it's up to the coaches.
"The stuff that I can control, I'm going to go 100 percent. [I'm going to] try as hard as I can, put in all the work that I can to put myself in a better position."
CdM has an array of weapons to choose from, a handful of which have secured college commitments. Senior Brandon Browning and junior Adam Flood are both USC-bound outside hitters.
The Sea Kings also have seniors Tyler Flood (New York University) and Brandon Hicks (UC Santa Barbara) at middle blocker.
In addition, CdM got its UC Santa Barbara-bound setter Patrick Paragas back for the playoffs.
Heading into Saturday's CIF Southern Section Division 1 quarterfinal at Huntington Beach, Kobrine had produced nine kills per match over his last three. He put up those numbers in sweeps of No. 2-ranked Los Angeles Loyola (22-2) in the regular-season finale and against San Clemente (21-12) and Canyon (25-5) to open the playoffs.
"We're finally getting an opportunity to prove what we can do at full strength," Kobrine said of having Paragas back on the court.
CdM (27-4) moved up to third in the Division 1 poll in the penultimate set of rankings, which were released on April 30. That placed the Sea Kings on the opposite end of the bracket from top-seeded and undefeated Newport Harbor (30-0). Many hope to see the Back Bay rivals meet again in the final, including Kobrine.
"I wouldn't say that if we were on their side of the bracket, whoever wins that game wins the finals," Kobrine said of possibly meeting Newport Harbor in the CIF finals. "I think we're two very talented teams, I think it would be a very good game if we played again.
"It's hard to beat a good team twice, even though they beat us twice. It would be hard to beat us three times."
CdM has sent a senior-heavy group out onto the floor this year. Asked about his dream scenario to end his high school career, Kobrine said he wants to go out on top with a group that learned the game together.
"We all started playing volleyball at the same time on the same team," Kobrine said in reference to their days at Corona del Mar Middle School. "It would be amazing to get this win with all our best friends."
Born: Jan. 27, 2000
Hometown: Newport Beach
Height: 6 feet 5
Weight: 170 pounds
Sport: Volleyball and basketball
Coach: Steve Conti (volleyball) and Ryan Schachter (basketball)
Favorite food: Chicken
Favorite movie: "The Shawshank Redemption"
Favorite athletic moment: Kobrine starred on a CdM boys' basketball team that played in the Nike Extravaganza this winter. The Sea Kings played San Pedro Rolling Hills Prep in the night session in the game directly preceding host Mater Dei.
Week in review: The senior opposite has averaged nine kills over his last three contests, which include a sweep of No. 2 Los Angeles Loyola and Division 1 playoff wins over San Clemente and Canyon.