Corona finishes second

SAN DIEGO — Progress was made toward the process.

It's the best way Corona del Mar High Coach Marissa Booker summed up her girls' volleyball team's second-place showing Saturday at the California Challenge hosted by Torrey Pines at Alliant University.

Corona del Mar, seeded sixth overall, fell in two games to eighth-seeded Mater Dei, 27-25, 32-30, in the championship match to finish the tournament 6-1. It helped the Sea Kings improve to 19-2 overall on the year.

Both losses have come in tournament play. Santa Margarita defeated the Sea Kings in three games in the Dave Mohs quarterfinals last month.

"I told the girls after the match it's part of the process," Booker said. "It's something we can build on. We did some really good things this weekend we haven't seen before. It's part of how the season goes. There were amazing teams here and we fought a lot through some tough matches. I'm proud of the girls for that. We just came up short."

Saturday's final matchup with Mater Dei (19-8) was a rematch of a nonleague meeting the teams played in September. Corona del Mar swept, 25-20, 25-10, 25-18.

The Sea Kings fought back against Torrey Pines Saturday to win in three games, 24-26, 25-21, 15-10, in the semifinals and advanced to face Mater Dei again.

Corona del Mar had three game points in the second set against Mater Dei to extend the match. The last came at 30-29, but was snuffed out by a kill from Mater Dei's Ashley Cox.

Corona del Mar also led at 29-28 after Mater Dei hit a ball into the net. But Maddie Frome connected on a winner to tie it at 29. The Sea Kings' first game point was at 27-26 and came on a kill from Hayley Hodson.

Mater Dei rallied back from a large deficit in the first set. Corona del Mar was ahead 10-1 to start the match before the Monarchs went on a 15-5 run to tie the score at 16.

Corona del Mar rebounded to grab a 24-21 lead, but squandered three game points as Mater Dei eventually tied it at 24.

Kelsey Humphreys and Britton Taylor were named to the all-tournament team for the Sea Kings.

"We were excited for the tournament," Taylor said. "We played [Mater Dei] before and after we started out really strong, we let up. We need to keep playing strong the whole match."

In the semifinals, Hodson took over late in the third set. With the score knotted at 10, the freshman outside hitter followed Taylor's kill with a block and two kills to give the Sea Kings match point at 14-10. Another kill from Taylor closed it out.

Corona del Mar survived a three-set match with San Clemente in the quarterfinals to keep its tournament hopes alive. The Sea Kings came back to win, 19-25, 25-21, 15-13. San Clemente led 13-12 in the decisive game. Taylor tied it at 13 with a kill.

Nikki Borchard's ace the next point gave Corona del Mar match point at 14-13. Hodson's kill ended it the following point.

Corona del Mar opened tournament play Friday by beating Canyon Crest Academy of San Diego, 25-17, 25-15, and finished with sweeps over Buchanan of Fresno, 25-11, 25-14, and Redondo Union, 25-23, 25-22, to win Pool 6.

The Sea Kings drew Mira Costa of Manhattan Beach in a Saturday morning play-in match, with the winner advancing to the gold bracket. The Mustangs had a game point in Game 1 before Corona del Mar rallied back and swept, 27-25, 25-19.

Corona del Mar will be back in tournament mode in two weeks for the Santa Barbara Tournament of Champions, which rival Newport Harbor is also entered in.

It's a different format from the best two-of-three at the California Challenge. Corona del Mar is still unbeaten this season in best-of-fives.

"We need to go out and fight hard," Taylor said of the next tournament. "We know that's going to be difficult as well."

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