CERRITOS — The Southern Section 5-A girls' volleyball championship plaque took a brief detour on the way to the Corona del Mar High School trophy case.
After Corona del Mar defeated Mira Costa, 15-12, 15-9, 15-8, Saturday night in the championship game at Cerritos College, the Sea King players temporarily presented the plaque to their former coach, Charlie Brande.
Middle blocker Lara Carlsen had 18 kills, and outside hitter Tracy Schriber added 13 as the top-seeded Sea Kings won their 22nd consecutive match.
The victory was a bright spot in a somewhat frustrating season for the Sea Kings. Brande resigned two weeks before it began in the wake of a Southern Section investigation into his coaching of high school players in the off-season.
The players practiced on their own for a week before Dale Flickinger was hired as interim coach.
"We've dedicated the season to Charlie," Carlsen said. "He means a lot to all of us. This is the greatest feeling."
Flickinger said Brande "was the guy who did all the work with this team. It's a shame he couldn't have been out here."
Brande watched from the stands as Corona del Mar's avenged a three-game loss to Mira Costa in last year's final.
The 5-A title was the first for the Sea Kings since 1978. Corona del Mar (24-1) advanced to the state Division I playoffs, which start this week.
Cindy DeGarceau had 19 kills, and Jennifer Smith 12 to lead Mira Costa (20-2).
Corona del Mar trailed, 12-11, in the first game, but three kills up the middle by Carlsen and a block by setter Prentice Perkins gave the Sea Kings the victory.
"The key was winning that first game," Flickinger said. "Schriber played unbelieveable, and Stacy Petersen (seven kills) just wouldn't let us lose that first game. She dug so many balls tonight."
Carlsen and Schriber continued to hurt Mira Costa in the second game; Carlsen had seven kills while Schriber added five.
In the third game, Corona del Mar built leads of 8-5 and 10-6 before pulling away.