REDONDO BEACH — On the way to its match Tuesday, the bus the Corona del Mar High girls' volleyball team rode in broke down. The Sea Kings had not yet left Orange County and they already had to deal with an issue.
Once the Sea Kings made it to Redondo Union on the bus, their season stalled. They didn't stay long as Redondo Union swept, 25-21, 25-17, 25-21, in the semifinals of the CIF Southern Section Division 1-AA playoffs.
The Sea Kings went home early, much earlier than in three of their previous four section playoff runs. Those ended with CdM playing for section titles.
In a new division, CdM ran into top-seeded Redondo Union (35-3). And it was the Sea Hawks who earned a shot to play for a section crown for the second time in three years.
For a minute, it appeared CdM (28-7) might make it a contest. In the opening set, the visitors led, 21-18. Then everything fell apart. Skylar Dykstra recorded a kill for Redondo Union and a CdM net violation cut the Sea Kings' lead to one.
Seeing Redondo Union inch closer, CdM Coach Marissa Booker called a timeout. She hoped the break might stop Redondo Union's Andrea Gonzalez from serving so well.
"She just kept going at us," Booker said.
"We got stuck in a rotation."
The Sea Kings were stuck all right, at 21 on the scoreboard. They failed to score again and Redondo Union closed out the first set on a 7-0 run.
Coach Tommy Chaffins said he didn't want to say that his Sea Hawks stole the first set, but they really did. They took the set and the momentum, never looking back.
Redondo Union was about to sweep CdM for the second this season. The past matchup between the two schools came at the Durango Fall Classic in Las Vegas and it only went two sets because it was a best-of-three match.
This one seemed over after the second set. The Sea Kings' only led once in the second set, coming at the start. Hayley Hodson put CdM ahead, 1-0, on one of the sophomore outside hitter's 19 kills.
No other player produced double-digit kills for the Sea Kings. The reasons why are because most of the time Kelsey Humphreys set her teammates up, their shots hit the net, or traveled wide and long. Errors did CdM in. Also, credit the Sea Hawks' defense, which Chaffins said played "lights out." Redondo Union turned the lights off on CdM's season.
Dykstra led the way with 20 kills, 13 digs and three blocks. The Sea Kings scrambled to slow down Dykstra, a 5-foot-9 senior outside hitter, who will play libero at UCLA after she's done at Redondo Union.
Next for Redondo Union is the title match against second-seeded Los Angeles Marymount on Saturday at Santiago Canyon College.
"A team like that [which] plays defense the way that [the Sea Hawks] do, you have to keep battling, battling and battling," said Booker, who saw CdM fall short of making its fourth section final appearance in five years.