Corona del Mar's Mitch Haly starts to celebrate a victory over Mira Costa in a CIF-SS Division 1 semifinal volleyball match Wednesday. Corona del Mar won in three sets, 25-17, 25-21, 25-23.

Confident CdM sweeps top seed to reach Div. 1 final


MANHATTAN BEACH - Senior setter Matt Ctvrtlik said the important thing for him and the rest of the Corona del Mar boys volleyball team was to move on from Saturday’s thrilling five-set victory over defending champion Huntington Beach.

That’s just what the Sea Kings did, and now they’re moving on again, this time to Saturday’s CIF-SS Division 1 final after knocking off top-seeded Mira Costa of Manhattan Beach, 25-17, 25-21, 25-23, Wednesday in the semifinals.

“The game against Huntington (Beach) and us being able to win, was the biggest and best thing that could have happened to our team,” Ctvrtlik said, adding that “it gave us confidence and we were able to build off it.”

CdM (28-5) will face second-seeded Loyola of Los Angeles in the final Saturday night at Cerritos College. CdM lost to Loyola earlier this season.

The Sea Kings also lost to Mira Costa (25-6) earlier this season, falling in five sets when they met in a tournament in Hawaii.

“We knew this was going to be a real hostile environment,” CdM coach Steve Conti said. “We tried to approach it, rather than being hostile, but being fun and having the opportunity to play in this kind of match, in the semifinals against a storied program like Mira Costa.

“Our guys just played with a tremendous amount of poise.”

That’s generally what happens for CdM with Ctvrtlik running the offense. The senior setter had 32 assists and four kills. Sam Kobrine led the Sea Kings with 11 kills, Will Hunter added 10, and Mitch Haly and Brandon Browning contributed nine and five, respectively.

“Our team is starting to play the best volleyball toward the end of the year,” Conti said. “We’ve been able to grow, just because I think we’re coming together a little bit later than other teams due to some injuries and kids coming from other sports.”

One of those returning from injury was Ctvrtlik. His second match of the season was the first match against Mira Costa in Hawaii.

Conti said that this group has matured so much since then.

“This whole team, every single guy on this team is a great kid,” Conti said. “This has been a really fun team to coach. They easily get motivated. I don’t have to motivate them, they come to practice everyday and work hard and get better. It starts with our senior leadership, but it has been a really fun group to coach.”

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