CORONA DEL MAR — Corona del Mar High Coach Darryl Gan said he has a lineup not many people have seen this year.
The one the girls' volleyball team introduced to the home crowd Tuesday night started slow.
The Sea Kings began their run toward a third straight CIF Southern Section Division final appearance unlike their usual selves. Getting up for their Division I-A first-round match against Immaculate Heart of Los Angeles was not easy.
CdM was coming off a big victory against Back Bay rival Newport Harbor on Friday. Gan expected a letdown, but it did not last too long.
Third-seeded CdM went on to sweep the Pandas, 25-18, 25-21, 25-8, and advance to the second round. The Pacific Coast League champion Sea Kings (22-7) face Foothill (16-11) on Thursday. The Knights qualified after beating Arroyo Grande in five sets.
Gan said a coin flip today determines the site of the match. He will gladly take another home contest against a Century League team CdM has not seen or played this year.
"It's hard," Gan said of opening the postseason four days after winning the Battle of the Bay for the first time in six years. "We had an emotional win on Friday and [my players] had a long weekend. It's been a long season. You've got to expect it. Sometimes we're going to play real sharp. Sometimes we're going to be a little soft.
"But then again, I like how we regrouped. We struggle in Game 2 and we come back and take care of business."
The Sea Kings finished off the Pandas (16-7) when it mattered most, late in each of the first two sets and early in the third, to record their second sweep in the last five days.
Stanford-bound outside hitter Morgan Boukather finished with eight kills, 10 digs, three blocks and two service aces for CdM. Senior outside hitter Hailey Senske led the Sea Kings with 10 kills and junior middle blocker Britton Taylor was successful on eight of nine attempts.
When the third set rolled around, CdM used its height to dominate the smaller Pandas. Immaculate Heart, an at-large entry from the Sunshine League, actually began the first two sets ahead on the scoreboard.
In the second set, CdM helped the visitors out by submitting its lineup late, costing them the opening serve and a point. The Sea Kings never got the chance to serve at the beginning of a set.
It seemed to affect the Sea Kings when they missed their chance in Game 2. Immaculate Heart jumped ahead by as many as six points twice during the set.
With CdM behind, 19-13, that is when it turned it on. The Sea Kings closed out the set on a 12-2 run. Sophomore Kelsey Humphreys served strong during the spurt, reeling off three aces. She started at setter for senior Megan Griffin, who Gan said sat out with the flu.
Humphreys got everyone involved and dished out 32 assists. Gan said he expects Griffin to return and play against Foothill in the next round, where the Sea Kings might unveil a rarely seen lineup.
"People have been watching us all year long, so we've always messed with our lineup," Gan said. "We can go to a lineup where we have both setters setting. That gives us a different look."