Manhattan Beach resident Chase Corbett had six kills and six blocks for Loyola. Photo by Ray Vidal
Their high school campuses sit 20 miles apart, yet when the boys volleyball teams from Loyola and Mira Costa square off, the match has the feeling of the fiercest cross-town rivalry.
The annual non-league scheduled match pits two perennial powers that compete in CIF Southern Section Division 1, arguably the nation’s toughest division in high school boys volleyball. It attracts so many students, fans and college scouts that it is played at a neutral site at Loyola Marymount University.
Sean Shoptaw is in his eighth season coaching the Mira Costa varsity team and played for the Mustangs in the early 1990s, witnessing the growth of the rivalry first hand.
“As a player I remember each year our respective gyms would be standing room only,” Showtaw recalled/ “You’d go back to serve and it felt like you were touching elbows with fans. In those days we all stayed and played club where we lived, so we didn’t have the relationships with each other like the kids do today, so there was genuine dislike on both sides. It was heated and it was fun, I wish I could go back and do it again.”
The match has more meaning than two of the top programs in the nation facing each other. The outcome also includes bragging rights – often between neighbors and teammates who join forces during the club season.
Mira Costa’s Roy McFarland records one of his three kills in the Mustang’s loss to Loyola. Photo by Ray Vidal
Thirteen players on Loyola’s roster live in the South Bay including Manhattan Beach residents Chase Corbett, Kieran Coughlin, Anthony Daegele, Kyle Jasuta, Cade Kelly, Bobby Nolan, Cole Paullin, Jack Payne, Matt Reilly, Ian Schwan, Nick Zoppi, Hermosa Beach’s Kyle Grafton and Luke Nassif of Rancho Palos Verdes.
Friday night, it was Loyola’s time to brag. The senior-laden Cubs manhandled the Mustangs 25-18, 25-21, 25-19 behind senior Hayden Boehle’s 15 kill, five dig performance.
Corbett was a force at the net, recording six blocks along with six kills. Nolan, Riley Moore, Paullin and Reilly had four kills apiece.
“Every year the match is a great one to watch and you never know what to expect,” Loyola Head Coach Michael Boehle said. “I’m really proud of our guys. Even though we have a lot of seniors on the team, there are only two that played in last year’s match. Mira Costa always puts up a fight and battles to the end.”
It was a satisfying win for Loyola, which had lost to Redondo Union the previous Saturday. The loss to Redondo dropped Loyola two spots to No. 4 in the CIF Southern Section Division rankings and moved Redondo in the third spot. Mira Costa entered Friday’s match ranked No. 5.
“I think we overlooked Redondo,” Boehle said. “It was nice to see how our boys rebounded from the loss. It was a big win for us.”
Schwan said siding out was the key to Loyola’s dominating victory.
“When we go on runs and then sideout, we’re tough to beat,” Schwan said. “It felt really great to beat Mira Costa because we all play together in the club world. I know we were the better team and we really stepped up our energy after losing to Redondo. It was a good test heading into the CIF playoffs
Ian Schwan sets the ball during Loyola’s sweep against rival Mira Costa. Photo by Ray Vidal
Connor Inlow led Mira Costa with eight kills. Blake Markland added six kills, Carter Kimble had four kills and two blocks and Roy McFarland recorded three kills, two aces and a block.
“This is a special match because both programs have been at the top for such a long time and every match we play against Loyola has real meaning, either for positioning heading into the CIF playoffs or we’re competing in CIF finals, semis etc., which is unique because it happens so often and that’s a credit to both schools,” Shoptaw said. “Having our kids all know each other, and in some cases play together, adds another layer of meaning and fuels emotions on both sides. It’s just a great rivalry build on a lot of mutual respect and great competition.”