LOS ALAMITOS — Just like in its five-game, come-from-behind victory in the first round of the Southern California Regional playoffs, the Corona del Mar girls' volleyball team showcased its never-say-die attitude.
Down 2-0 against host Los Alamitos, the Sea Kings staved off two match points in the fourth game Saturday and nearly went the distance before falling against the No. 1-ranked team in Division I.
In the end, Corona del Mar — which staved off six match points Tuesday against Torrey Pines to come out victorious — lost a heart-breaker in the regional semifinals, 26-16, 25-20, 21-25, 27-25.
"This team has been such a fighting team," said first-year CdM Coach Marissa Booker. "We have such a special group of girls, not just in volleyball but as people."
The Sea Kings (32-5) showed what kind of heart they had in the fourth game. Freshman outside hitter Hayley Hodson dropped a kill to tie the game at 24, the first that prevented the match from ending sooner. Chrissy Watson's block trickled just wide, but Hodson again saved the match from ending with her 12th and final kill.
However, Griffins outside hitter Jojo Schnabl put down a kill that Hodson was not quite able to dig, then Alijah Gunsaulus put away CdM on the third match point.
"Our team's really good at fighting," Hodson said. "I did not expect us to go this far. We made it to CIF (Southern Section finals). I'm so proud of our girls for not giving up."
Los Alamitos (38-3) will host No. 2 seed Marymount of Los Angeles in the Southern California Regional final at 7 p.m. Tuesday.
The momentum appeared to have shifted in the middle of the third game. With CdM leading, 12-7, Los Alamitos' 6-foot-2 sophomore middle blocker Crissy Jones landed on someone's foot and had to sit out the rest of the match with a sprained ankle. Jones had six kills and was a major presence against Grace Kennedy, Hodson and the rest of the Sea Kings' front line.
"It was huge," Britton Taylor said of Jones sitting out the match. "We moved on to get four points. We both put up a really good fight. We played a great match."
Los Alamitos' Jaylan Villanueava led all players with 18 kills and five blocks.
"We had unforced errors," Booker said. "We had tips and down balls go in. Their team has a lot of weapons."