Karly Recker had to be ready for her moment, even if it happened to arrive at the biggest point of Saturday’s CIF Southern Section Division 2 second-round playoff match.
The Corona del Mar High senior middle blocker had seen CdM’s best player, Stanford-bound senior Kendall Kipp, get blocked twice in a row late in set five by Palos Verdes’ Ariel Campbell and Kate Lane. The visitors tied the score at 13-13 in the decisive set in the battle of the Sea Kings.
This time, CdM sophomore Bella Pouliot went with a quick set to Recker. She put it down to give CdM the lead back. After a Palos Verdes hit went long on match point, Corona del Mar had escaped with a 25-16, 16-25, 25-21, 22-25, 15-13 victory to move on.
“You have to be ready the whole time,” said Recker, who had seven kills in the match and just one hitting error. “That’s how you compete. We wouldn’t compete against any of these teams if we weren’t ready from start to end.”
No. 2-seeded CdM (25-11), which has won 16 straight matches, will play at Trabuco Hills in the Division 2 quarterfinals on Wednesday. Trabuco Hills swept Murrieta Valley in another second-round match.
Kipp finished with 26 kills for the Sea Kings, while junior Nikki Senske had 15 kills. Senske also provided tough serving late in the third set, when CdM won 10 straight points to rally for the 25-21 set win.
Palos Verdes (20-12), the third-place team from the Bay League, did not go away, taking the fourth set and rallying from a 7-2 deficit in set five. Finley Shannon led the visitors with 19 kills, while Katelyn Chekian had 15 kills and seven service aces. Setter Kate Lane also provided CdM problems with her dump kills, recording six of them.
“We were really gritty, and we just kind of hung in there,” CdM coach Steve Astor said. “That run in set three was our season so far.”
Pouliot had 48 assists for CdM.
“I know it’s probably intimidating being a sophomore setter on varsity running a 5-1 [offense], but she’s killing it,” Kipp said.