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Four Sunset Conference boys’ volleyball teams earn seeds in CIF playoffs

Corona del Mar's Vanis Buckholz hits against Newport Harbor's James Eadie  on  April 20.
Corona del Mar’s Vanis Buckholz hits against Newport Harbor’s James Eadie during a Surf League boys’ volleyball match on April 20.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

The CIF Southern Section released the pairings for its boys’ volleyball playoffs on Saturday, revealing that six local teams have qualified for the postseason.

All six teams finished the regular season ranked in their respective divisions, with four Sunset Conference teams securing top-four seeds in their brackets.

The Back Bay rivals both make appearances in an exclusive Division 1 bracket that features just eight teams and begins play on May 26.

Third-seeded Corona del Mar (8-2) and No. 4 Newport Harbor (12-3) shared the Surf League championship this season.

In their playoff opener, the Sea Kings will play host to Trinity League champion Mater Dei (14-1).

The Sailors will also open at home against South Coast League champion San Clemente (11-1). Newport Harbor handed San Clemente its only loss in the season opener on the Sailors’ home floor 25-15, 25-22, 20-25, 25-21.

As usual, the strength of the Surf League was respected. Even as an at-large selection, Huntington Beach (9-4) will be the No. 2 seed in the Division 2 draw.

The Oilers oppose Downey (8-3, San Gabriel Valley League No. 2) in a first-round match on the road on Tuesday.

It has been some time since Marina (5-5, Wave League No. 2) has made a playoff appearance, but the Vikings are the top seed in Division 4. Marina will be at home on Tuesday against San Gabriel (7-1, Almont League No. 2).

First-year head coach Ryan Parker, who has been with the Marina program for four years, said that moving senior Daniel Purtell from setter to outside hitter has provided a boost for the Vikings. The addition of freshman setter Dyllan Nguyen allowed for the move to take place.

“We’ve got a lot of experience, along with as good of a talent pool as I think we’ve had since I’ve been with the program,” Parker said. “We’ve been battling with some really good teams and taking care of business when we need to take of business against some lower-level teams.

“I told them from the very beginning, we weren’t coming into the season trying to win our first league game in however long. We were trying to win league, get into playoffs, and take a shot at a state championship.”

Marina has not played a match since its April 30 loss to Huntington Beach due to a COVID-19 case within the program. Parker said that the team has been unable to practice going into the playoffs as a result.

Also competing in Division 4, Pacifica Christian Orange County (San Joaquin League No. 2) will travel to take on Anaheim (4-5, Orange League No. 1) on Tuesday.

The Tritons are making their first appearance in the CIF playoffs since a wild card round loss to Sage Hill in 2018.

Estancia (5-4, Orange Coast League No. 2) will be on the road at Mountain Pass League co-champion Palm Desert Xavier Prep (5-1) in the first round of the Division 6 playoffs on Thursday.

The main draw of the Division 6 bracket spans four rounds. The Eagles will be competing in their first postseason since 2017.

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