Randy Angel

Mira Costa captures Bay League boys volleyball crown [UPDATED]

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Senior outside hitter Max Cajuste and the Bay League champion Mira Costa Mustangs will battle for the CIF-SS Division 1 crown along with local teams Redondo, Palos Verdes, South Torrance and El Segundo. Photo by Ray Vidal

By Randy Angel

High School volleyball continues to thrive in the South Bay with five teams making the CIF Southern Section Division 1 playoffs.

The Bay League will be represented with three teams including Mira Costa, Redondo and Palos Verdes. They will be joined by South Torrance and El Segundo as they attempt to get past the two top-ranked teams Newport Harbor and Loyola, respectively.

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Mira Costa captured the Bay League crown on May 1 with help from Palos Verdes. The Mustangs completed their job of beating rival Redondo 22-25, 25-22, 25-17, 25-23 and when Peninsula upset Palos Verdes, Mira Costa had earned the title outright.

In the fourth set, Mira Costa rebounded from a 20-18 deficit when Adam Sevier tied the game 22-22 and gave the visitors a 23-22 lead they would not relinquish.

“Our game against Redondo was an example of our team playing with some maturity that they gained throughout the year,” Mira Costa coach Avery Drost said. “Redondo’s team is really well coached and they played us smart. We lost the first set and didn’t look great doing it. I felt that our guys used their heads to make the tiny adjustments to win the next three sets. Those kind of adjustments have not always been our strength this year, but as time has gone on I have seen less and less stubbornness and more willingness to learn and adjust on the fly. For me it was a really gratifying way to win the league. Redondo and PV from the Bay League are really good, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they made a splash in the playoffs.”

The opening round of playoffs began Tuesday with all matches leading up to the finals beginning at 6 p.m. unless another time is mutually agreed upon.

Mira Costa is ranked No. 7 in the Division 1 playoffs following a 3-2 loss to visiting and 5th-ranked Huntington Beach in the regular season finale.

Mira Costa (21-7) defeated Aliso Niguel 3-0 and will face Beckman (27-8), a 3-0 winner over West Ranch, on Thursday.

“Aliso Niguel, hase an experienced coach, played a competitive schedule, and start a couple of big dynamic seniors, so they won’t be easy to deal with at all,” Drost said. “I think our team is in a strong position for CIF because of the type of schedule we played this year. The Bay League was very deep this year, and we played 10 CIF Div 1 playoff opponents. We are definitely accustomed to playing multiple top level opponents in the same week, and that’s what the playoffs look like.
“I expect our team to be mentally refreshed and ready for the ‘second season.’ From the beginning, we have had the type of talented individuals that can allow us to be competitive with anyone all the way to the finals. If we put together five complete “team” games where we execute as a unit, we can win the whole thing. If we don’t, the level of competition out there won’t give us any breaks. It’s an exciting challenge.”

Bay runner-up Redondo (21-11) began on the road at Canyon of Anaheim but was shutout.

“We are looking forward to competing against the best teams in Division 1,” Redondo coach Duncan Avery said prior to the match. “Our athletes have gained experience during every match and we are hoping to make a run this postseason. With no seniors on our playoff roster, I am excited to see how this young team responds to the playoff atmosphere.”

Pioneer League champion and 4th-seeded South Torrance (34-1) swept Calabasas and will take on Santa Margarita (17-7) in the second round.

Palos Verdes (15-15) was the Bay League’s third representative and traveled to face Mater Dei but was swept by the Monarchs.

Ocean League champion El Segundo (17-4) fell to visiting Servite 3-0.

In Division 2, Del Rey champion Bishop Montgomery (19-9) is seeded No. 3 and swept Crescenta Valley in the first round. The Knights advance to take on San Juan Hills (18-12) on Thursday.

In Division 3, West Torrance (15-15) won its wild-card match against Culver City but had to travel to take on top-seeded Downey in the first round where the Warriors were swept 3-0.

In Division 5, Coastal League champion Vistamar (14-3) defeated visiting wild-card winner Pacific Lutheran in the first round and will face Ontario Christian (13-2) on Thursday

Action continues Saturday followed by the semifinals on Wednesday and the finals on Saturday, May 19.

For complete brackets and scores, visit cif.org.

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