Boys' volleyball: Southland giants set to renew rivalry
A playoff atmosphere is building inside Loyola Marymount University's Gersten Pavilion, where both Los Angeles Loyola and Manhattan Beach Mira Costa are warming up for tonight's nonleague showdown. Mira Costa rallied to win the junior varsity contest, 24-26, 20-25, 15-7, and if the varsity match is anywhere close to being as intense and competitive, fans are in for quite a treat.
These two Southland powerhouses have combined to capture 11 CIF Southern Section titles and their rivalry is one of the most heated in high school sports. The teams have already met once this year, with Loyola sweeping the Mustangs on its way to the Gold Division championship at the Best of the West Tournament.
Mira Costa took last season's meeting in dramatic fashion, 23-25, 25-18, 23-25, 25-21, 15-12 and the teams split two matches in 2009-10, with Mira Costa winning 2-1 at the Best of the West Tournament and Loyola sweeping the teams' nonleague meeting.
Loyola (15-0) is currently ranked #1 in the nation by ESPN Rise and #1 in the CIF-SS Division 1 poll. The Cubs feature five players who have already signed with Division I schools: libero Parker Boehle (UC Santa Barbara), setter Michael Mullahey (USC), outside hitters Alex Slaught (USC) and Nick Porterfield (UCLA) and middle blocker Driss Guessous (Ohio State).
Mira Costa (10-2) started the season as the top-ranked team in Division 1 but has slipped to #3 after losses to San Diego Westview and Loyola at the Best of the West Tournament earlier this month. The Mustangs are paced by USC-bound outside hitter Christopher Orenic, a USA National Beach Training Team member.
The match will be the best of five sets and will begin shortly.
-- Steve Galluzzo
Photo: Loyola and Mira Costa boast one the fiercest volleyball rivalries in Southern California. Credit: Steve Galluzzo / For The Times