CORONA DEL MAR — The setter feeding the biggest player on the court the ball dealt with a couple of cuts, one on his leg and another on his arm. The one on the arm, near the elbow, wouldn't stop bleeding.
The referees charged Newport Harbor High a second timeout because Steven Duhoux's cut wasn't fully covered after the initial timeout. It was late in the decisive fifth set of the Battle of the Bay boys' volleyball match at Corona del Mar and the Sailors needed a better Band Aid.
Somehow the Sailors figured a way to tape up the cut. Duhoux returned, all bandaged up. Keep in mind that he had to switch jerseys because his No. 15 had blood on it.
The number that wasn't going to change was the number of the player Duhoux kept calling on Friday night. The offense was going to go through 7-foot Kevin Rakestraw once again.
Rakestraw delivered when it mattered most. The Stanford-bound senior pounded a kill, almost taking out a referee while clinching Newport Harbor's 22-25, 25-21, 20-25, 30-28, 15-12 victory against the Sea Kings.
The only player visible on the court was Rakestraw. He stands out in a crowd. Teammates and the visiting fans stormed the court to celebrate with Rakestraw, who recorded a season-high 34 kills.
The Back Bay finally belongs to Newport Harbor.
"I never got to beat them the past three years," said Rakestraw, referring to the annual Battle of the Bay match. "I was going to get it. It was a struggle, though. It's always a fight between us and them."
Coach Steve Astor said it was a fight the Sailors needed to win with the CIF Southern Section Division 1 playoffs starting next week.
In a hostile environment, against a quality opponent, and down, 2-1, in sets, the Sailors (20-8) rallied to beat CdM for the first time in the Battle of the Bay in four years.
Duhoux helped make it possible, collecting 58 assists. He went to Rakestraw, Peirce Ward (13 kills) and Clay Carr (10 kills). Experience seemed to be on the Sailors' side.
The young Sea Kings (18-10), ranked No. 9 in the CIF Southern Section Division 1 poll, made many unforced errors in the final two sets.
Ryan Moss led CdM with 17 kills and Tommy Brooks added 13. Matt Ctvrtlik collected 48 assists and three blocks.
"Down the stretch, we didn't play to win. We played very tentative. We were more concerned about making an error, rather than try and put the ball away," CdM Coach Steve Conti said. "In these matches, you got to play to win. And at times, we fought really hard. There were some amazing rallies tonight, with both teams kind of battling. But when push comes to shove, I think our [youth] kind of came out, where we showed a little bit of immaturity.
"We just can't dwell on this too long, because we're going to have a tough [first-round playoff match] probably on Tuesday. If we're worried too much about this, our season can end on Tuesday."
Rakestraw, and the player setting him, can't wait to get the postseason underway. The playoff pairings will be announced Saturday, a day Duhoux will no doubt spend recovering.