Taylor in middle of CdM's success

The position for Corona del Mar High senior Britton Taylor is middle blocker, but she's become more of a pure force in the middle than just a pure blocker.

Taylor has been racking up kills totals lately for the CdM girls' volleyball team that would make some outside hitters jealous.

A career-high 18 kills in a Santa Barbara Tournament of Champions quarterfinal win over Mira Costa of Manhattan Beach. Fourteen kills the next morning — along with a season-high eight blocks — in the semifinals against Los Angeles Marymount. Fourteen more Wednesday, in a four-set win at Beckman that clinched the Sea Kings' sixth straight Pacific Coast League title.

"She's been working hard to connect with our setters," CdM Coach Marissa Booker said. "Sometimes when you watch her, it just seems like she's unstoppable."

With the CIF Southern Section Division I-A playoffs beginning next week, Taylor is stepping up at a good time for the Sea Kings. They're ranked No. 2 in the division now, as defending CIF champion Marymount jumped over them with the four-set win in Santa Barbara.

To Taylor, the Daily Pilot Athlete of the Week, that just provides more motivation.

"Now we know what we need to work on more, and how we can get ready to play them in CIF," she said. "They outplayed us at times, but now we have this new motivation. They've beaten us once, and we can't let that happen again if we see them again in CIF."

Taylor will do her best to stop that from happening. She's a leader for CdM, one of three team captains for the Sea Kings along with senior libero Mary McKennon and junior setter Kelsey Humphreys.

Coming into the week, Taylor led CdM (27-3) in blocks. She is also third on the team with 214 kills. She was named to the all-tournament team in Santa Barbara, where CdM finished third, as well as at the California Challenge at Torrey Pines, where the Sea Kings were runners-up.

Taylor has put a back injury that sidelined her for several months behind her. It was frustrating for Taylor, who was on the Orange County Volleyball Club 17-and-under team that won the USA Volleyball Junior Nationals title in Atlanta but couldn't compete.

She got back on the court in August, good timing for CdM, where she's a three-year varsity player and two-year starter. Now Taylor teams with fellow senior Chrissy Watson at middle blocker and the back doesn't bother her anymore.

"I feel like I keep getting better each game and each practice," Taylor said. "I just have to keep working hard."

She is the middle of three children. Three years separate her and her older brother Carter, who played water polo at CdM and now plays at Long Beach State. Three years also separate her and her younger sister, Corinne, who's a freshman on the Sea Kings' frosh/soph volleyball team.

"It's a good age difference, and my brother's close to home at Long Beach," Britton Taylor said. "He comes home often, so we still have that close relationship with each other."

The Sea Kings' varsity volleyball team shares that close bond. They've worked hard to get where they're at in Booker's first year as coach. In terms of wins and losses, no other CdM team has had this few losses this late in the season since the Lance Stewart-coached teams of 1992 and '93. Each of those squads won CIF Southern Section and CIF State Division I titles.

Stewart is now at Laguna Beach. His Breakers, ranked No. 3 in Division I-A, are another potential playoff opponent for CdM. This year's Sea Kings have big goals, just like those early '90s teams.

"We're really close, and all of that," Taylor said. "We all have the same end goal. We want to be in the CIF finals; we want to be in the state finals. We all want to strive toward that and do our best."

If Taylor stays unstoppable, the Sea Kings have a good shot.

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Britton Taylor

Born: April 22, 1994

Hometown: Newport Beach

Height: 6-foot-2

Sport: Volleyball

Coach: Marissa Booker

Favorite food: Chicken

Favorite movie: "Bridesmaids"

Favorite athletic moment: Winning Battle of the Bay against rival Newport Harbor two years in a row.

Week in review: Taylor had 50 total kills in CdM's four matches at the Santa Barbara Tournament of Champions, helping the Sea Kings place third. She was an all-tournament team selection.

matthew.szabo@latimes.com

Twitter: @mjszabo

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