Mele Corral-Blagojevich is only a freshman and Tuesday night, it was Mira Costa’s turn to see how she can take over a game for the Redondo girls volleyball team.
On game point in the second set, Blagojevich dropped a quick kill that helped Redondo take the second set before sweeping Mira CosRedondta 25-19, 26-24, 25-23 in a Bay League showdown at El Camino College.
“The intelligence (Blagojevich) possesses is unreal,” Redondo coach Tommy Chaffins said. “She knows when to use it and when to create. That kill was a cross-court, open-handed kill that no one was looking for, not even her coach. It was the perfect chess play.”
Corral-Blagojevich led Redondo (24-3, 4-0) with 17 kills, three blocks and two aces, but it was her decisiveness at the net that continuously showed those watching that she plays like a seasoned veteran.
“(Blagojevich) plays at a very high level. She’s very calm and confident, and is a leader on the court,” said Nalani Iosia, who finished with 13 digs for Redondo. “She’s able to lift us up, and is another dependable player on the court.”
Jody Smith’s play at the net in the third game helped give Redondo a bit of breathing room. Trailing 8-6, Smith started an 8-0 run with a kill and a block. Over the course of the run, Smith recorded two kills and three blocks. Smith finished with 8 kills and 5 blocks.
“Mira Costa played a super aggressive style of defense, and we went to a push-style offense,” Smith said. “That really changed things for us.”
Mira Costa (14-4, 3-2) came out with high energy to start the night, but Redondo used the Mustangs energy against them, taking a 14-8 lead following a Corral-Blagojevich block and kill on consecutive points.
“I know that very time I swing, I need to be as aggressive as possible, but also be smart, too,” she said. “Our team energy really helped me (Tuesday).”
The Mustangs looked to take control in the second game, utilizing three Sea Hawk unforced errors before taking a 17-14 lead on Amanda Burns’ third kill of the set.
Redondo clawed its way back, tying the game at 22 following a pair of Corral-Blagojevich kills before Kami Miner’s ace gave the Sea Hawks game-point.
“We knew we had to get Redondo off the serving line, and we did a good job at doing that,” Mira Costa’s Nikki Underwood said. “We weren’t letting them get on too many runs.”
While Mira Costa’s energy had its ebbs and flows on Tuesday, Underwood saw the Mustangs pick the energy level back up with its back against the wall in the third game.
Trailing 21-13, Mira Costa reeled off a 7-1 run that included two aces and high-energy play at the net from Piper Stevens and Shannon Knight.
Underwood finished with 6 kills and 3 aces, while Kate Reilly led the Mustangs with 9 kills.
After Smith’s eighth kill of the night gave Redondo match-point, Miner’s quick kill finished off the sweep.
“(Tuesday) was huge for us,” Smith said. “We like to have a faceless opponent, and that’s always key to our success. We know we can’t worry about our opponent or the crowd. That’s what makes us successful.”