With its five basketball players finally in volleyball shape, Corona del Mar pulled off a stunner on Wednesday night, knocking off No. 2-seeded Loyola on its home court, 28-26, 25-22, 28-26, in the Southern Section Division 1 semifinals.
"Awesome," is how junior setter Matt Ctvrtlik described the opportunity to play perhaps the No. 1 team in the nation, Huntington Beach, for the Division 1 championship on Saturday night at Cerritos College.
The Sea Kings (28-6) had lost twice to Loyola (29-2) in matches this season and were eliminated by the Cubs in the semifinals last season. But this time, they limited their errors and proved tough when the going got tough.
"They played phenomenal," Loyola Coach Mike Boehle said.
USC-bound Ryan Moss had 14 kills and UC Santa Barbara-bound Kevin Fults had 10 kills. It was a special triumph for Coach Steve Conti.
"We played a lot closer to our potential," said Conti, who shares his top players with the basketball team.
Now Corona del Mar faces a difficult task of taking on a Huntington Beach team that has won 100 consecutive matches and will be going for a third consecutive title. Huntington Beach swept Mira Costa on Wednesday.
"They have talented players," Ctvrtlik said, "but so do we. That's what championships are for. You play."