Corona del Mar High faced a test during each set in the Battle of the Bay girls' volleyball match Friday night.
The Sea Kings trailed rival Newport Harbor in each set, and each time they responded. CdM Coach Darryl Gan admired the determination his girls showed when earning an impressive sweep that was the Sea Kings' first win over the Sailors in six years.
He wants them to use that type of character and carry their momentum into the playoffs to knock off another team that has been a nemesis recently in a possible semifinal matchup of the CIF Southern Section Division I-A playoffs.
CdM (19-6), the Pacific Coast League champion, earned the No. 3 seed when pairings were released Sunday. The Sea Kings open at home tonight at 7 against Immaculate Heart (16-7), a Sunshine League team from Los Angeles that grabbed an at-large berth.
Newport Harbor (20-11), which finished second in the Sunset League, is the No. 4 seed in Division I-AA. The Sailors will play host to Dana Hills (16-9), the South Coast League's No. 3 representative, tonight.
In Division IV-AA, Sage Hill (11-12), which was second in the Academy League, will play host to Big Bear (12-7 and third in the DeAnza League) tonight.
Estancia (7-16), which finished third in the Orange Coast League, will play at Valencia (17-14) of Valencia, the Foothill League champ, tonight in a Division 1-A first-round match.
All matches are scheduled to start at 7.
In addition to responding to deficits Friday (including a seven-point hole in Game 3), Gan says the Sea Kings have playoff experience that will be to their benefit in the postseason.
They've reached the section and state regional final the past two years, losing to Redlands East Valley in each section title match.
Gan said he hopes CdM will have the opportunity to reach the semifinal and play against REV, the No. 2 seed.
"I'm very happy with the way our team is playing," said Gan, who is in his third year. "When our backs were against the wall on Friday, we never stopped fighting. We played with a great sense of urgency and we were sharper because of that."
Newport Harbor Coach Dan Glenn was disappointed about losing leads Friday, but believes his team is plenty capable of bouncing back.
"If we can execute and play our game, I think we can play with anybody," Glenn said of his team, the defending section and Division I state champion. "Cinnamon [Sary] has had a great year. Just this whole group has been playing great. We have 15 or 16 kids who can all play. It's easy for me to sub because I have confidence in all of them."
The Sailors earned big wins recently against Edison and Huntington Beach to boost their confidence. They've also been challenged playing without junior standout Alex Holbrook, who sustained a season-ending right knee injury last month. She had surgery to repair tears to her anterior cruciate ligament, medial collateral ligament and meniscus Wednesday, Glenn said, and she is in good spirits.
Even though Newport Harbor is the No. 4 seed, Glenn said the Tars are the underdogs this season. Harvard-Westlake (24-2), the Mission League champion, is the top seed.
Marymount (17-7) of Los Angeles, the Sunshine League champion, is the top-seeded team in Division I-A.
St. Margaret's (13-3), which finished ahead of Sage Hill to win the Academy League, is the top seed in Division IV-AA.