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Newport Harbor boys’ volleyball rallies to stun Loyola for CIF Division 1 title

The Newport Harbor High boys' volleyball team celebrates after winning the CIF Southern Section Division 1 final.
The Newport Harbor High boys’ volleyball team celebrates after winning the CIF Southern Section Division 1 final against Loyola at Long Beach City College on Saturday.
(James Carbone)

The Newport Harbor and Los Angeles Loyola boys’ volleyball teams came into Saturday night’s CIF Southern Section Division 1 title match as the top two ranked high school teams in the country by MaxPreps.com.

The No. 2-ranked Sailors and top-ranked Cubs certainly put on a show at Long Beach City College.

In the end, Newport Harbor put together a rally worthy of a champion.

Junior outside hitter Jake Read got the match-winning kill as the Sailors won, 15-25, 25-20, 20-25, 25-19, 15-12.

Newport Harbor's Riggs Guy (5) spikes the ball for a score during Saturday's Division 1 title match.
Newport Harbor’s Riggs Guy (5) spikes the ball for a score during Saturday’s Division 1 title match.
(James Carbone)

Read said he was going to put as much juice as he could onto his last swing. It delivered the Sailors their fifth CIF title in program history, and the first since 2019.

To do it, the Sailors (25-5) had to come back against a Loyola (21-3) team that had won 14 straight matches headed into Saturday. The Cubs, the top seeds in Division 1, hadn’t lost since early March, including a nonleague sweep at Newport Harbor on March 12.

But the Sailors pulled away from a 10-10 tie in set five, with senior middle blocker James Eadie with a block and two kills late to help get his team to match point.

Newport Harbor's Riggs Guy (5) and Loyola's Sean Kelly (12) joust for the ball during the Division 1 boys' volleyball final.
(James Carbone)

Read finished with a team-high 16 kills, two service aces and five digs for the Sailors. Eadie had 13 kills — including four in the decisive fifth set — and junior outside Luca Curci added 14 kills, two aces and five digs.

Libero Sean McCarthy had a team-best 15 digs, and Riggs Guy had eight kills and eight digs.

Eadie joins his younger sister, Sage Hill School girls’ basketball sophomore Emily Eadie, as a CIF champion. He had six total blocks, Curci added four and senior setter Cole McKibbin contributed one total block.

“It was a major part,” Eadie said of the physicality needed. “We had to attack them every single point. If we didn’t, you saw some of those kills by Dillon Klein. He just bounced it if we hadn’t put it away first before he could.”

Mission League champion Loyola took control early in the first set. A service ace by Klein, who had a match-high 21 kills, gave the Cubs an 11-5 advantage, forcing Newport Harbor coach Eric Vallely to burn the match’s first timeout.

It ended up as Newport Harbor’s most lopsided set loss of the postseason. But the Sailors didn’t roll over in set two.

“I think one of the big advantages we had, maybe even over Loyola, is that we had five guys that were in [the Division 1 title match loss to Mira Costa] last year,” Vallely said. “And there’s no substitute for experience ... I’m big on responses. There’s going to be times where other teams throw the first punch, but it’s about getting back up and returning it. We did that in the second. I think once we got that second set, we really started to believe.”

Newport Harbor's Luca Curci (18) and Loyola's Owen Loncar (24) jump for the ball for a score during the Division 1 final.
(James Carbone)

Eadie had three of his blocks early as Newport Harbor stormed out to a 10-4 lead. And Read came alive, recording four kills in the set.

The Sailors never led in set three, and Klein finished it off with back-to-back kills to help his team get ever closer to the Division 1 crown. But Surf League champion Newport Harbor responded in a tight set four, with successive kills from Read and Curci leveling the match at two sets all.

“Even though we lost last year, which was a huge bummer, coming in this year, there is that confidence,” Vallely said. “They’re a big and physical team, huge. We were going to have to play a different style of ball in order to compete. Our word all week was ‘attack.’ If we can keep them off balance, even just a little bit, it allows us to control the tempo of the game a little bit more.”

Newport Harbor's Jake Read (6) spikes the ball during the Division 1 boys' volleyball final Saturday.
(James Carbone)

Curci’s bump set from the back row aided Read’s kill, which got the Sailors to 24-19 in the game.

Newport Harbor, which has appeared in four straight Division 1 finals since 2018, won its second championship in that span.

Both teams will compete next week in the Southern California regional championships.

Newport Harbor's Luca Curci (18) dives to keep the ball in play during the Division 1 boys' volleyball final Saturday.
(James Carbone)

Staff writer Andrew Turner contributed to this report.

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