Calling the Shots:

One of the highlights of the spring season is the Battle of the Bay boys’ volleyball match.

I have little doubt that it is the premiere match during the regular season. I mean, what more can you ask for? Two teams filled with pride and tradition, battling for bragging rights and a high seed in the CIF Southern Section Division I playoffs.

This year’s Battle of the Bay has Corona del Mar playing at Newport Harbor Friday night. The varsity plays at 6:30 at the Sailors’ main gym, such a great place for a volleyball match. Yeah, it’s old school, but the small, tight gym makes for an electric setting.

The frosh-soph teams will play there at 4:30, followed by the junior varsity, and then the main event.

Since 2000, Newport Harbor has won seven of the 10 Battle of the Bay matches, including the past two. Last year, the Sailors lost the first two games, only to win the next three to stun the Sea Kings at CdM.

The Sea Kings did the same thing back in 2006. They swept Newport Harbor in 2000 and 2007.

There have been four five-game matches in the past 10 years. Yes, it’s usually exciting when Newport Harbor and CdM clash.

“I think people should expect two teams that want to come out and leave on the winning end,” CdM Coach Steve Conti says. “They’re going to see a lot of hard-fought points and I think they’re going to feel a lot of energy you don’t really feel in most regular-season matches.”

Conti likes the Battle of the Bay matches because they are like playoff games, yet a team is not eliminated afterward. The Battle of the Bay is the final regular-season match and acts as great preparation for both teams.

CdM (18-8) needs it more than Newport (16-8), as the Sea Kings play in the Pacific Coast League and don’t really face elite competition. For instance, CdM closes out league play tonight at Beckman and will most likely complete an undefeated PCL season. The Sea Kings, ranked No. 2 in the CIF Southern Section Division I coaches’ poll, have swept all of their PCL matches.

Newport Harbor, ranked No. 5 in CIF Division I, plays at Edison tonight, most likely competing for second place in the Sunset League, as Esperanza looks like it will lock up the league crown with a win over Fountain Valley.

Once those matches end, the rivals will turn their attention toward Friday night. My prediction? CdM in five.

Keep in mind, CdM beat Newport Harbor in two games in a best-of three in the quarterfinals of the Orange County Championships March 20. But, honestly, that doesn’t mean much now as both teams are playing their best volleyball, plus the match is at Newport Harbor.

It should be another great one.

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