CORONA DEL MAR — Kelsey Humphreys just stood behind of the service line. Four minutes passed before someone found a ball for her to serve.
The reason for the delay was that the balls were inside the storage room, not on the court at the start of the Corona del Mar High girls' volleyball match on Tuesday.
Once the balls rolled out, the hosts took care of business, sending rival Laguna Beach home after three sets. The Sea Kings swept, 25-20, 25-22, 25-22, and earned their first victory at home this season.
They haven't been home much. The Sea Kings spent Friday and Saturday in Las Vegas competing at the Durango Fall Classic. While they didn't come home with the grand prize, they placed fourth in the premier national tournament.
The last two matches in Las Vegas ended with CdM losses. Understandable, the Sea Kings went up against two teams ranked in the PrepVolleyball.com national preseason poll, No. 2 Assumption of Louisville, Ky., and No. 25 Redondo Union.
Their first match back home was a winnable one. The Sea Kings (6-4), ranked ninth in the nation at the start of the year, became the second straight team to beat Laguna Beach in three sets.
Laguna Beach is No. 1 in the CIF Southern Section Division 1A poll, but it has been unable to take a set against two of the top teams from Division 1AA. After the Breakers' 3-0 start to the season, they have lost to Newport Harbor and CdM, Back Bay schools ranked ninth and third, respectively, in the latest Division 1AA poll.
What happened to the Breakers late in each set against the Sailors did so against CdM. They couldn't keep up, despite having a high-flying act in Alyse Ford, who produced a match-high 20 kills.
The Sea Kings' balanced attack of Hayley Hodson (11 kills), Grace Kennedy (10 kills) and Jules Pouch (nine kills) was too much for Laguna Beach. Even CdM's setter, Humphreys, got into the act of putting away balls, recording six kills.
When the senior wasn't finding holes for easy dumps, she distributed the ball and collected 32 assists. Humphreys now has another weapon to go to in matches.
Alexis Cage made her season debut with the Sea Kings. The talented 6-foot-2 senior missed the first nine matches after recovering from an undisclosed surgery. Coach Marissa Booker called Cage's number in the second and third sets.
As to where Booker plans to use Cage, at middle blocker or outside hitter, is up in the air.
"Wherever is best for the team," said Booker, adding that she's not quite sure where that is yet.
Booker said Cage has only had one full practice with the team.
"We're just trying to figure where people are going to [play]," said Booker, who is pretty much set at setter with Humphreys.
Toward the end of the match, Humphreys, sitting on the bench, cracked a smile when the PA announcer informed her of her kill total.
She wasn't done. She returned to the court.
At match point, a teammate gave her the ball, just in time for Humphreys to drop a service ace.