Sailors fall to Loyola

Daily Pilot

NEWPORT BEACH — The Newport Harbor High boys' volleyball team gave Coach Dan Glenn exactly what he asked for Saturday night.

But in a five-game CIF Southern Section Division I quarterfinal war against defending Division I champion Loyola, the host Sailors couldn't provide what Glenn ultimately wanted.

The No. 3-seeded Cubs rallied for a 22-25, 29-27, 21-25, 25-22, 16-14 win to advance to Tuesday's semifinals at No. 2-seeded Corona del Mar.

"I told our kids that all I can ask is for you guys to battle and we battled," Glenn said after a heart-wrenching fifth set in which the Sailors led, 8-4, and 14-11. "That's the best we've played all year. If we go down, we go down. The thing that's most disappointing to me, is that the season is over, in a sense that we're playing our best volleyball right now."

Junior outside hitter Cody Caldwell had 23 kills to lead the Tars (20-10), for whom senior setter Jackson Carmack produced 52 assists.

Junior libero Connor Curry had 20 digs and senior middle blocker Will Connelly had 14 kills, one solo block and six block assists.

Junior Rusty Sary chipped in 15 kills, while senior middle Austin Bagby had five block assists and one solo stuff.

Junior defensive specialist Ian Sequeira had 10 kills to typify the kind of scrappy play Glenn demands and senior outside hitter Zack Martin have five kills, two stuff blocks and two block assists.

"That was the best Carmack set all year and that was Connor's best match of the season," Glenn said. "Sary and Bagby both had sprained ankles, but they played great.

Caldwell had four kills in the decisive set, while Sary and Martin added two apiece and Connelly had one.

But after Connelly's kill put the Sailors up, 14-11, Loyola senior outside hitter Steven Irvin took over.

Irvin, who paced the winners with 21 kills, had two straight kills to pull the Cubs within one. Then, after a timeout, the 6-4 Irvin dug a booming Caldwell kill attempt, then later provided the set for teammate Vaun Lennon's kill that knotted the score.

A solo block by Ryan Zoppi in the middle, one of just five team blocks for the visitors (to 16 for Newport Harbor), put the Cubs on the verge of victory and Zoppi won a joust at the net on the ensuing rally to spark a wild Loyola celebration.

"You've got to hand it to them, they're a champion," Glenn said of Loyola. "And [Irvin] is a big-time player. But we didn't make a play at the end there that we needed to execute.

"I thought we did a phenomenal job. It's just unfortunate somebody has to lose in that one."

Loyola Coach Michael Boehle said his team was on the fortunate end.

"It was not a fun one to be in, but it was a fun one to be in," Boehle said.

"The fact that we came back from 14-11 in Game 5 shows these kids don't want to quit.

"[Irvin] has been our go-to guy all year. Even when he was a sophomore, we knew he had the potential to be one of our best hitters in the nation,. And I think he is. He had a real tough three games to start. I think Newport Harbor did a real good job with their blocking scheme against him, putting four hands, sometimes six hands up on him at all times. I think he showed a lot of character in Game 5, when he really took over the match.

"Out of the [final] timeout, we said they were probably going to go to Caldwell with a bic, and let's stay down and dig him deep. And, fortunately, the ball bounced our way."

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