The ball launched forward by sophomore goalkeeper Emma Ware was controlled by senior Isabelle Lomonaco and quickly flicked to junior Kalen Lehmann, who found the back of the net on a powerful right-handed shot.

It happened so quickly, the third-period highlight effectively summarizing Wednesday afternoon at Drake Pool.

Showcasing its superior skill, speed and stamina, the Santa Monica High girls water polo team obliterated Torrance 14-4 in Ocean League play.

It was another convincing victory for the Vikings on their quest for a fourth consecutive conference title, another example of their regular-season dominance.

But what coach Matt Flanders and his squad are truly jonesing for is the postseason glory that eluded them last year, when they lost to Huntington Beach-Ocean View in the semifinals of the CIF Southern Section playoffs.

That experience has seemingly galvanized Samohi (23-3, 5-0 in the Ocean League), which is currently ranked No. 1 in Division 6 despite losing star goalkeeper Sierra Kelly, defensive stalwart Leah Duff-Gutentag and other key seniors to graduation.

“We really thought we’d be in big trouble, but the girls have just stepped up,” Flanders said. “Our top six are pretty darn good. We don’t have a superstar, but they work really, really well together. They’re just stoked to play water polo.”

Since the Vikings face weaker competition in league play, they try to squeeze lessons and motivation out of their preseason matchups against top teams from throughout the region. In December they lost to Huntington Beach, which recently received votes to be in the top 10 of the Division 1 poll. They also fell by one to Palos Verdes, the ninth-ranked team in Division 3.

But it’s not as if Samohi can’t hold its own against elite opponents. Early in the season it defeated Manhattan Beach-Mira Costa, currently the No. 5 team in Division 3. And a couple weeks ago it handled Dana Point-Dana Hills, the No. 9 squad in Division 2.

“You need to have a lot of experience to compete, and the top teams all play year-round,” Flanders said. “That’s what the girls have done. They have a lot of water polo under their belts, and they’re really reaping the benefits right now.”

But staying sharp while beating inferior opponents during the conference slate isn’t easy, Flanders said.

“We try to stay focused on what our goals are and keep working hard,” he said. “If you go in cocky and complacent, you’ll end up losing. We just try to stay as focused as possible.”

The Vikings looked focused from the get-go against Torrance, scoring the first six goals of the game. Lehmann logged a hat trick, and twin juniors Alissa and Audrey Hattori also put away multiple goals.

Flanders also noted the standout play of Olivia Allen, one of five seniors on the team, junior goalkeeper Amalie Luneng-Solli and freshman Lauren Gaudry.

Samohi, which is scheduled to face El Segundo and Culver City on the road this week, will host Beverly Hills in its league finale Feb. 9. What happens in the playoffs remains to be seen.

“Ever since we lost in the semis last year,” Flanders said, “they’ve been working really hard to get back to that stage, or better.”

jeff@www.smdp.com