CORONA DEL MAR — Coach Darryl Gan now has someone he can lean on the bench at Corona del Mar High with high Sea King credentials.
The new assistant coach with the girls' volleyball program is someone who has led the Sea Kings to the promise land.
Steve Conti has returned to the girls' team to help Gan and CdM win a CIF Southern Section title, which has eluded the Sea Kings the past two seasons.
Conti sat next to Gan during Wednesday's Pacific Coast League match at home against University. Gan did not need much of Conti's advice to guide the Sea Kings to a 25-20, 25-14, 25-13 sweep.
Gan is happy to have Conti, who is the head coach of the CdM boys' team, on his staff.
Conti is glad to offer his services after he recently transferred as a middle school physical education teacher to CdM from Ensign Intermediate School.
"Another set of eyes and a very experienced set of eyes," Gan said of Conti, who led the Sea Kings to a Division III-AA title in 1997, his first year as the head coach of the girls. "Obviously, he's kind of a legend over here. He's like the Dan Glenn of [Corona del Mar]. I've always talked to Steve about helping during the girls' season.
"Now that he's here full-time, it worked out a lot better."
With Conti around, the Sea Kings' chances of returning to a section final for the third straight season only improve.
No team in league has challenged CdM. Stanford-bound senior Morgan Boukather (10 kills) and Britton Taylor (six kills, four blocks and three service aces) led the Sea Kings past University (10-7, 1-3) and to their fourth consecutive sweep in league play.
The Sea Kings (13-4, 4-0 in league) are on their way to claiming their third straight league crown under Gan.
The section title is the one the Sea Kings covet. They fell in the Division II-AA finale to Redlands East Valley in each of the last two years.
The two schools this season moved up to Division I-A, where Redlands East Valley is ranked No. 2, ahead of CdM at No. 3. Marymount of Los Angeles is No. 1.
Conti knows a lot about contending for section championships. During his 14 years in charge of the boys at CdM, the Sea Kings have eight section final appearances, having prevailed in half of them.
Conti said he stepped down as the girls' coach in 2001 after having won a section title and making three semifinal appearances and focused on just the boys because he and his wife started a family. With his kids, 8-year-old Braden and 7-year-old Alexa, now older, Conti said he has the time to assist with the girls.
"It sure makes it a lot more convenient," said Conti of teaching and coaching on campus. "It's nice to be the assistant. I get to do the fun part of coaching, to come in and work with the kids. The head coach, I know from the boys' season, there [are] a lot more administrative [duties]. It's not only that you're taking care of them. There [are] the uniforms, making arrangements for when you travel. I really get to deal with the best part of coaching."