Fans piled into the Newport Harbor High gymnasium for the long-awaited Battle of the Bay boys’ volleyball match on Friday night.
For the first time since meeting in the CIF Southern California Regional Division I championship match last May, the rivals took the court together.
Not unlike last year, Newport Harbor has been making another run at a historic season. In 2018, the Sailors did not suffer their first loss until dropping an epic five-setter to CdM in the CIF Southern Section Division 1 final. It came after the Sailors had already defeated the Sea Kings twice that season.
Dayne Chalmers’ serve had found the net on match point in that CIF final, and he could not wait to get another crack at the two-time defending champions.
On Friday, Chalmers kept the Sailors’ perfect season intact.
The UC Santa Barbara-bound senior had a match-high 13 kills to go with two service aces and 1½ blocks, leading Newport Harbor to a 25-20, 25-21, 25-19 sweep of visiting CdM in a Surf League opener.
The Sailors, ranked No. 1 in the CIF Southern Section Division 1 and 2 poll, improved to 27-0.
“I was looking forward to this one ever since last year,” Chalmers said. “Again, we had to take it one game at a time, but when it came, I was fired up to play these guys. The last time we did was last season, so I wanted a little bit of revenge.”
Newport Harbor’s student section descended upon the Sailors after Joe Karlous executed a tip for his only kill on match point.
The Pepperdine-bound setter finished with 40 assists. As tired as he is of being asked about last season, Karlous could not help but admit that experience should help his team down the road.
“We’ve been in so many tough games,” Karlous said. “I hate talking about last year, but state and CIF, we’ve been there. We know what we need to do, what we need to improve on and still improve on.”
Newport Harbor received impact play from its middle blockers. Alec Patterson had seven kills and two blocks, and Caden Garrido hammered out six kills to go with four blocks.
Additionally, Jack Higgs provided 12 kills, and Blake Ludes contributed four kills and three blocks.
Sailors coach Rocky Ciarelli said that a strength of his team all year has been its consistency. Newport Harbor’s blocking made it difficult for the Sea Kings to score.
“Our block did a good job, especially when, as they say, Corona del Mar was out of system,” Ciarelli said. “I thought we did a good job of having two solid blockers on them most of the night.”
The Sea Kings (15-5) played the match without outside hitter Max Dunk. Sam Stafford said that Dunk, who has committed to Long Beach State, has taken a leave of absence from the team for personal reasons.
Adam Flood and Nick Alacano both finished with nine kills for the Sea Kings. Bryce Dvorak finished with 22 assists to go with three blocks, and Matt Olson also had five kills.
The Sailors got precision passing from libero Ryan Schroeder and Chalmers out of the back row, and Stafford felt it was a key to the match.
“They were in control,” Stafford said. “Their first contact was really good all night, and when they’re passing the way that they are, and they have three or four options, it’s going to be tough for us.”