CORONA DEL MAR — The Corona del Mar High girls' volleyball team won the Battle of the Bay for the third straight year Saturday night.
After the match, players from both teams had a bit heavier hearts than usual.
The Sailors lost senior outside hitter Tristen Thompson to a left knee injury late in the second set. The Sea Kings rallied for a 13-25, 25-23, 25-21, 25-23 victory, but it was obvious Thompson's injury hit close to home for players on both side of the bay, especially those who play club volleyball with Thompson at Orange County Volleyball Club.
With CdM up, 24-23, in the second set, the match had to be stopped for 20 minutes. Thompson, a team captain, was taken off in a stretcher after she collapsed near the net.
At the time, she was leading Newport Harbor with 11 kills.
"She came down and her leg was locked," Sailors Coach Dan Glenn said. "Her kneecap popped out."
Both teams had to regroup.
"That was a bummer," said CdM senior opposite Shannon Griffin, who plays club with Thompson. "I mean, that hurt us too, but we had to shake that off and Harbor had to shake that off. We came back, and Coach [Marissa Booker] just said, 'You guys, this game's not over, you still have to come out hard.' We nailed a pass and gave it to Hayley [Hodson], and she just ripped it. We can count on her to do that, so that was awesome."
Hodson's kill meant the match was suddenly even at one set apiece. She had plenty more where that came from.
The sophomore outside hitter ripped a match-high 27 kills. Fourteen of those came in the final set, as senior setter Kelsey Humphreys kept feeding the hot player. CdM led that fourth set, 18-12, before Newport Harbor began to rally.
Senior setter Torey Thompson, who had to somehow focus and keep playing when her sister went down, made big plays for the Sailors (11-5), ranked No. 7 in CIF Southern Section Division 1-AA. She earned a kill on a dump then served up an ace, tying the score at 22-22.
Both teams traded service errors, but then Hodson's kill gave Corona del Mar (8-4), ranked No. 2 in Division 1-AA, its first match point. The Sea Kings converted it when a Newport Harbor hit sailed long.
"I had a lot of adrenaline pumping through my body," Hodson said. "I just love this sport so much; it's so fun.
"Who wants to go to a fifth game?" she added with a smile. "It's too nerve-wracking. We wanted to finish in four."
Junior outside hitter Jules Pouch had 14 kills for Corona del Mar. Humphreys and senior Jenna Johnson each had four blocks, Griffin had three stuffs and senior Alexis Cage added two.
"Grace [Kennedy] was playing well, Alexis played well, the team really stepped up today," Griffin said. "Hayley will show on the kills, but it was Kelsey's sets and the middles duking it out. It was a great job by everyone."
Freshman Jessica Harris had three service aces for the Sea Kings, who started slow in the first set.
"The one thing our team struggled with tonight was our passing," Booker said. "It got better toward the end. We have to have ball control in order to get where we want to get to."
On the other side, Glenn was proud of the way his team battled without Tristen Thompson. Junior Carolyn Bockrath had a team-high 15 kills, Torey Thompson dished out 41 assists and senior libero Hunter Jennings had a team-high 12 digs. Senior Sierra Brown, celebrating her 18th birthday Saturday, had a team-high three service aces.
Glenn said it was obviously tough to lose Tristen Thompson, who missed time last year with an ACL injury.
"I just know how hard she's worked to get back to this point," Glenn said. "That's the first thing she said, 'Not in this game coach, not in this game.' I mean, she had 11 kills and one error. She was hitting over .600 in the match before that happened. I'm just kind of crushed for her.
"I don't want to take anything away from Corona. They battled back and they were swinging for that match, even before she got hurt. I was really excited the way we played the first game. I don't think Corona played that well, but I thought that had a lot to do with our aggressive play ... We let them off the hook a little bit [in the fourth game]. The thing about them is that they constantly have a good swing at the ball."
Hodson certainly did, time after time in the fourth set as the Sailors were trying to extend the match.
"This is a match that we always really strive for, and I'm really happy that we won it," Hodson said. "I'm sad that they lost their outside hitter, because that was a big blow to them. I hope she gets better, but I'm really happy we won."