CdM aces test

Daily Pilot

CORONA DEL MAR — Corona del Mar High boys' volleyball coach Steve Conti was worried before the match.

His Sea Kings calmed him down from the opening whistle.

CdM played at a high level for the first-round CIF Southern Section Division I playoff match Tuesday night, sweeping visiting Mission Viejo, 25-16, 25-16, 25-13. The Sea Kings will face Dos Pueblos in the second round Thursday; whether it's home or away will be determined this morning by a coin flip today.

Dos Pueblos defeated Harvard-Westlake, 25-23, 25-22, 25-20, in another first-round match Tuesday.

Mission Viejo (16-13), the fourth-place team from the South Coast League, was considered by many to be a tough draw for the No. 2-seeded Sea Kings. The Diablos made it to the semifinals of the Orange County Championships, where CdM finished as runner-up earlier this year.

But CdM (21-8) went on an 8-0 run midway through the first set, highlighted by three service aces from sophomore Parker Brown. That spurt led to a 22-12 advantage.

"We played pretty good," Brown said. "My coach told me to start going for it [on serves] and start hitting it as hard as I can. And my teammates encouraged me."

The Sea Kings put away the game and also started the second set on a 5-0 run behind two more aces from senior Joey Booth. For the match, CdM had 10 aces, four by Brown and two each by Booth, Nick Curci and Weston Nielsen.

"This match worried me," Conti said. "I knew a couple league champions would get some tough draws ... But you really can't control your draw, what you can control is how well you go out and play, and that's what we tried to do tonight. We knew they were big and athletic, and our goal was to try to out-ball control them and serve really tough. I thought we served at them really tough, and that created some scoring opportunities for us."

UC Santa Barbara-bound Nielsen and USC-bound Booth each had a match-high 12 kills for CdM. Brown had seven kills and 18 assists, and Curci added 15 helpers. Senior middle John Christian had five kills and junior Brennan Andersen added eight digs for the Sea Kings.

UCLA-bound Diablos outside Spencer Rowe had seven kills to lead his team.

Corona del Mar, which earned impressive nonleague victories over Loyola and rival Newport Harbor in the past two-plus weeks, came out strong again after edging out the Battle of the Bay last Friday in five sets.

"I was also concerned [with Tuesday's match] being so close to Friday's match against Newport Harbor," Conti said. "Mission's capable of beating a lot of very, very good teams. Sometimes I guess the coaches worry more than the players do. These guys seemed pretty poised out on the floor, which was nice."

CIF Playoffs Mission Viejo…0CdM…3

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