CORONA DEL MAR — Corona del Mar High boys' volleyball coach Steve Conti said Newhall Hart wasn't ranked in the CIF Southern Section Division II top-10 poll all season.
Coaches may have overlooked the Indians. No one could overlook their size Thursday night in the CdM gym, not with Long Beach State-bound senior middle blocker Taylor Gregory and Pepperdine-bound senior outside hitter J.J. Mosolf on full display.
"I started doing some research online, and I kind of wondered why they weren't in our top 10 earlier," Conti said.
Conti didn't have to wonder about his top-seeded Sea Kings, who swept into the Division II quarterfinals with a 25-17, 25-20, 25-16 victory in the second-round match. Corona del Mar (26-4) will play at Aliso Niguel in a quarterfinal Saturday at 7 p.m. Aliso Niguel swept San Luis Obispo in another second-round match Thursday.
Gregory is 6-foot-8 and Mosolf is 6-6, but it was the Sea Kings who put up a big block against Hart (27-9). They finished with 18 block assists, a high number that Conti approved of in the three-set match. Stanford-bound middle blocker Spencer Haly led the way with six blocks, double the total of Gregory.
"We just tried to play defense around the block," said CdM senior Brennan Anderson, who had a match-high 14 kills.
The Sea Kings were too balanced. Pepperdine-bound Evan Dean had eight kills and juniors Parker Brown and Jack Reed had six each. Haly and junior Remy Lamons had four kills each.
There were plenty of options for senior setter Nick Curci (27 assists) and junior Joe Ctvrtlik (12), although Conti said his team's ball control could have been better.
"That's where the passing is so critical," said Conti, whose team hadn't played since a thrilling five-set win in the Battle of the Bay on May 6. "We've got guys that can put the ball away."
Senior libero Chip Zucker had a team-high four digs and two service aces for CdM, which jumped out to a 6-1 lead in the opening set, prompting an early Hart timeout.
Hart Coach Mary Keen constantly saw her team playing from behind, which is something the second-place Indians weren't used to doing in the Foothill League unless they were playing Valencia.
Foothill League champion Valencia is the No. 3 seed in Division II and has won a state-record 102 straight league matches. CdM knows the feeling as it hasn't lost a Pacific Coast League match in six years.
But Keen said her team, led in kills by Mosolf with 11, didn't play as well Thursday as it did against Valencia during the league season.
"[Corona del Mar] was a great volleyball team," Keen said. "They're very fluid. Their setter really spread the ball around, but I definitely felt like we didn't play our best match tonight."
Reed also had three blocks for the Sea Kings, even though Conti said he broke his right pinky finger in practice Monday.
"I don't think that slowed him down," said Conti, who will now get to work on preparing for Aliso Niguel.
Corona del Mar hasn't faced the Wolverines, who tied for second in the Sea View League, this season.