Making it to the CIF Southern Section boys volleyball championships isn’t an easy feat.
For Mira Costa, Saturday’s appearance in the Division 1 final at Cerritos College was the first for the Mustangs since 2012 and the opponent, Newport Harbor, had experienced the disappointment of making it this far and coming up short last year.
That experience showed as the teams took aim at the this year’s coveted prize, leading to the Sailors defeating the Mustangs 25-20, 25-23, 15-25, 25-21.
“As things went on, Newport just got sharper and sharper, that team is really, really good,” Mira Costa coach Avery Drost said of the Sailors. “I think they were extra sharp tonight, their offense was really dynamic and fast.”
The Mustangs weren’t in awe of the moment, but a slow serving game in the opening set hurt things early. Mira Costa missed seven serves in a set that was close throughout.
“Serves that kind of busted things open for us in the past, weren’t quite there,” Drost said. “As a result, we didn’t jump on the game.”
It took until the third set for the Mustangs to grab a set and take control.
Ben Coordt gave the Mustangs a 15-8 lead with a kill and the lead reached double digits on a kill by Thomas Kretschmer.
“We got a couple of breaks go our way that gave us some life in set three,” Drost said. “They made more mistakes than at any other time and I thought Sam Collins was a big lift for us, he put some balls away with a lot of authority and we actually got the serve to do some damage in the third set.
As all championship teams do, the Sailors didn’t dwell on the third-set loss.
“Starting down a little in the fourth was tough for us because when that team is executing as well as they are, it makes you feel pretty tight because they don’t give you any breathing room and they make you pay for every mistake,” Drost said.
The championship was final CIF-SS title for Newport Harbor coach Rocky Ciarelli, who is retiring at the end of the season.
With a new year will come new challengers to the Sailors’ title and the Mustangs want next year to end the way it did for the Sailors this year.
Last year, Drost led the Mustangs to the quarterfinals.
“I have a lot of faith in the guys coming back,” he said. “We have some big-time guys coming back for us. I think they can learn from this Newport group, the precision that they play with that’s something that we talk about.
“We feel like we have a lot of talent and a lot of dynamic volleyball players, but you have to play with such a high level of precision and focus to win a championship. That is something that we can learn from what they did.”
Sophomore Ben Coordt led the Mustangs with 16 kills and Sam Collins had 14. Kretschmer finished with nine and Young and Adam Sevier had seven and six, respectively. Lauch Farris led Mira Costa with 15 digs.
“Ben (Coordt) handled this moment incredibly well,” Drost said. “He’s asked to do a lot and he did a great job. Jack Walmer is coming back for his senior season, I’m very excited about Sam Collins coming back for his senior season, Dain Johnson, lots more guys who are about to rise up. This is the first Costa group in many years to be in a final, Newport lost in the final last year in five (sets) and I’m sure that helped them tonight to be more prepared for this.”