Mira Costa coach Avery Drost knew his team would have to play a near-perfect game to beat Newport Harbor in Saturday's CIF Southern California Regional Division I championship game. But, the Mustangs were unable to sustain that level of play for the duration of the match.
Costa lost the battle 18-25, 25-17, 25-12, 25-19 on Saturday night at Newport Harbor High, giving the Sailors its first championship.
“They are excellent and they’re gonna make you pay for every mistake” Drost said of Newport Harbor. “I think our team is capable of putting together stretches that can hang with them, but to do that over the course of five sets, if that’s what it takes to beat these guys, is a really tall task.”
Ben Coordt had a team-high 10 kills for Mira Costa, which also got contributions from Thomas Kretschmer and Sam Collins in the opening set.
It was all Newport Harbor after that.
The Sailors regained their rhythm in the second set and were especially tough up the middle as Caden Garrido and Alec Patterson controlled the net by constantly blocking the Mustangs swings.
Newport Harbor continued its march towards school history in the third and fourth sets by sticking to the fundamentals, clean passing by Joe Karlous and Ryan Schroeder and swift attacks from the outside courtesy Blake Ludes, Higgs and Chalmers.
Longtime Newport Harbor coach Rocky Ciarelli, who announced his retirement at the beginning of the season, didn’t want the focus to be on him after the victory.
“First of all, I’d like to thank the crowd, and then these kids, they’re something special.” Ciarelli said. “You saw tonight how much they hustled, the desire they had, they just kept working, especially after losing that first game.”
Dayne Chalmers finished with 19 kills and Jack Higgs had 11 kills to pace the Sailors (39-1), who finished the season 11-0 at home.
The Mustangs (25-7), who lost to Newport Harbor in the CIF SS Division 1 final last week, fared much better in Saturday’s opening set.
“I thought Mira Costa played really well (in the first set),” Ciarelli said. “They didn’t miss many serves, they passed well, but as the game went on our game picked up and their game broke down a little bit too.”