On Friday night, the best of high school sports was on display in the annual neighborhood volleyball match between Southern Section Division 1 powers Los Angeles Loyola and Manhattan Beach Mira Costa at Loyola Marymount.
“It’s two of the best volleyball programs in the nation,” Loyola Coach Michael Boehle said. “We put on a pretty good show.”
Mira Costa dropped the first two sets, then rallied to secure a rousing five-set victory before an energetic crowd of more than 2,500. The scores were 24-26, 18-25, 25-16, 25-22, 15-11.
“It’s an amazing atmosphere,” Mira Costa’s Grant Chalmers said. “Both teams have amazing crowds.”
Turning the match around for the Mustangs was 6-foot-6 junior Connor Inlow, who recorded consecutive blocks in the fourth set and was a dominant figure in the middle. He had 10 kills. Scott Stephanoff had 14 kills.
“I think the reason we came back is we believe in ourselves,” Chalmers said. “We worried about what we could control. Connor stepped up. I’ve never seen him play so well in his life.”
Loyola has seven players on its roster who live in Manhattan Beach. Many are friends on both teams and play together on club teams or at the beach. Some will become teammates next season at the same college.
In the stands, a couple of Loyola students were wearing tanktops, “Beat Costa.” A Mira Costa fan waved the sign, “Boyola.” There was a beach ball being thrown around by Mira Costa fans. It was a party atmosphere as students waved to each other knowing community bragging rights were at stake.
“I see Loyola fans I’ll probably be barbecuing with in the next week or two,” Mira Costa Coach Mike Ninnis said.
“It’s a good, clean rivalry,” Mira Costa assistant coach Sean Shoptaw said.
-- Eric Sondheimer