Corona del Mar Sea Kings
Coach: Steve Astor (first year)
Players to watch: OH Hayley Hodson (Jr.); Opp. Jules Pouch (Sr.); OH Katie Craig (Jr.); S Jessica Harris (Soph.)
You should know: Astor is well aware of the high expectations at CdM, ranked No. 3 in the CIF Southern Section Division 1AA preseason poll.
The previous two coaches, Marissa Booker and Darryl Gan, led the Sea Kings to section title appearances, only to lose each time, Booker in 2011 and Gan in '08 and '09. They both left, citing family.
Volleyball is Astor's life. The 28-year-old takes over his first girls' program after he spent the past two years as the boys' coach at rival Newport Harbor.
The Sea Kings lost 13 players to graduation. The team's lone returning starter is Hodson, an All-CIF Southern Section Division 1AA selection last year as a sophomore. Hodson helped the U.S. girls' youth national team win the silver medal at the FIVB Volleyball U-18 World Championships in Thailand in August.
Outside of Pacific Coast League play, the Sea Kings have a challenging schedule. They opened the season Thursday with a big win at Los Angeles Marymount, the defending CIF Southern Section Division 1AA and CIF State Division I champions.
The Sea Kings' second match is at home against No. 7 Mater Dei on Sept. 11. They will compete at the Dave Mohs Championships (Sept. 13-14, 16), the Torrey Pines California Challenge (Oct. 11-12) and the Santa Barbara Tournament of Champions (Nov. 1-2).
Astor returns to Newport Harbor on Sept. 28. He will get to experience what it's like to be on CdM's side during the Battle of the Bay rivalry match.
— David Carrillo Peñaloza
Costa Mesa Mustangs
Coach: Todd Hanson (first year)
Players to watch: OH Danielle Obong (Sr.); S Jayme Krohnfeldt (Sr.); MB Stephanie Willett (Jr.); Opp. Natalie Tetreault (Jr.)
You should know: Hanson is the Mustangs' latest hire and he hopes to stick around after the program has gone through eight coaches in the last nine years.
Hanson comes from Fountain Valley, where he said he coached the boys' team for 13 years and the girls for four years. Hanson said he led the girls' team to its best finish in 10 years, finishing 11-13, 2-8 in the tough Sunset League.
At a smaller school like Costa Mesa, which has an enrollment of 1,051, compared to Fountain Valley's 3,503, Hanson, a walk-on coach, said he has to find ways to attract students to play volleyball. He said he's carrying all 36 girls that came out for the Mustangs' three-level teams, varsity (12 players), junior varsity (11) and frosh-soph (13). At Fountain Valley, Hanson said 110 girls tried out and he cut almost half of them and still had enough players to form four teams, one for varsity, one for JV, and two for the frosh-soph level.
Hanson said Obong and Krohnfeldt are Costa Mesa's only returning varsity players.
The program to beat in the Orange Coast League is Laguna Beach, which has won the league every season since its inception seven years ago. Hanson said Laguna Beach is the Newport Harbor or Los Alamitos of the Sunset League.