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After epic comeback, CdM can't finish off Loyola
NORWALK – The script had some of the same key plot twists as the CIF-SS quarterfinals, but unfortunately the ending was much different for the Corona del Mar boys volleyball team.
In the the quarterfinals, CdM dropped the first two sets of Saturday’s CIF-SS Division 1 final against Loyola of Los Angeles, but again, that wasn’t the end of the night for the Sea Kings.
CdM rallied all the way back, forcing a fifth set, but came up short in its quest for the title came up short, falling to second-seeded Loyola, 25-14, 28-26, 17-25, 31-33, 15-12, at Cerritos College in the Division 1 final.
“We definitely battled, we needed to serve and pass better,” CdM coach Steve Conti said. “I think they were able to do that, especially in game one and most of game two. This match could have gone either way … they were just a little bit better than us tonight.”
Loyola (29-2) took the lead in the fifth set, 7-6 on a kill from Casey McGarry. CdM (28-6) was chasing the set from there, eventually tying Loyola at 11-11 and 12-12. However, the Cubs scored the final three points to end the match.
The fifth set looked like anything but a certain thing during the early stages of the match and especially in the fourth set.
CdM turned in a miraculous stretch of survival in the fourth set, fighting off set point five times before finally ending the set on a Loyola attack into the net, forcing a fifth and deciding set.
Sam Kobrine had 11 kills in the fourth set to help CdM stay alive. He finished the match with 28. Brandon Browning and Mitch Haly had 16 and 11 kills, respectively.
“I saw a lot of heart and a lot of fight,” Conti said of the fourth set. “A lot of reasons why we get to play in this match was kind of displayed in that fourth set. I love this team. It is a great group of guys.”
This is the second consecutive season of heartbreak for CdM in the CIF finals. Last year, the Sea Kings lost in five sets to Huntington Beach.
After a slow start, CdM showed signs of life in the third set. Browning had consecutive kills and Will Hunter had a big solo block for a 14-9 lead forcing Loyola into a timeout.
The Sea Kings kept their focus for the remainder of the set, led by Sam Kobrine to lead the way to the victory.
Loyola was hitting .500 over the first two sets, but cooled down dramatically in the third (.125).
CdM was its own worst enemy in the second set, missing five serves in a set where every point ended up being crucial.
Loyola wasted little time getting down to business in the first set. Thanks to their strong service game and rocket kills from John Reilly, the Cubs were all over the Sea Kings, eventually stretching their lead to double digits late in the set. The Cubs hit .500 in the first set.
The teams met earlier this season with Loyola winning in four sets in a nonleague match. Last year in the Division 1 semifinals, CdM knocked off Loyola to advance.
Loyola’s road to the finals included victories of three Orange County teams (Edison, San Clemente and Beckman).
JP Reilly led the Cubs with 18 kills. Jack Truman and Will Bantle had 15 and 11, respectively.
"I'm happy for us because we've been here a lot the past five years," Loyola coach Michael Boehle said. "And we finally got one and it is nice to have."
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