The concept of rivalry has served to strengthen sports across the board.
Whether it is the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees getting together for 19 regular-season games, or the Los Angeles Lakers and the Boston Celtics meeting twice a year, certain matchups bring more intrigue than others.
The Battle of the Bay demands the attention of Newport Beach residents.
At the end of an appetizing boys’ volleyball season, the climax has arrived in the form of an all-Back Bay championship match.
Top-ranked Newport Harbor will oppose Corona del Mar in the CIF Southern Section Division 1 final Saturday night at 6:30 p.m. at Cerritos College.
“I would expect that place to be pretty full,” Sailors coach Rocky Ciarelli said. “The kids that go to Corona del Mar and Newport, it’s a big deal. I would think that most of the kids would go ahead and drive out to Cerritos.
“Both programs, I think, have a pretty loyal following. Whether it’s the kids, the adults, or ex-players, I would expect a pretty big crowd.”
Although the schools have a storied rivalry, their playoff history is somewhat limited. Since the inaugural CIF boys’ volleyball playoffs in 1974, the teams have met three times. The two most recent encounters came in the title match of the 1999 and 2000 seasons, with the rivals splitting those matches.
CdM leads the postseason series 2-1. All such prior contests took place under the side-out scoring system. The sets would go up to 15 points, and points could only be scored by the serving team.
With both programs in Saturday’s Division 1 title match, the championship tilt will mark the 23rd and 24th combined appearances by the schools in a boys’ volleyball final.
The Sea Kings have gone 8-7 in title matches, while the Sailors have posted a record of 3-4 in those contests.
No matter which side of the rivalry one falls on, it has been fun for all this year. Newport Harbor heads into the final undefeated at 32-0 overall.
Third-seeded CdM (30-4) came the closest to defeating the Sailors this season, squandering multiple match points in the final of the Orange County Championships (19-25, 26-24, 19-17).
In the annual Battle of the Bay match, the Sailors swept the visiting Sea Kings 25-18, 25-20, 26-24.
The Sea Kings thirsted for a third crack at the Sailors, with senior opposite Kevin Kobrine saying, “It would be hard to beat us three times.”
Kobrine’s words played off the cliché that it is tough to beat a good team twice. The defending champion Sea Kings certainly are that, heading into their fourth consecutive CIF final.
“They have a chance to defend last year’s championship,” Sea Kings coach Steve Conti said of the motivation for his senior-laden group. “To have a chance to play a team that has beaten you twice, a chance at redemption on this kind of stage … is pretty special.”
CdM boasts a loaded lineup. Senior outside hitter Brandon Browning (USC), junior outside hitter Adam Flood (USC), senior setter Patrick Paragas (UCSB), senior middle blockers Brandon Hicks (UCSB) and Tyler Flood (NYU), and Kobrine (UCLA) have committed to play volleyball at the next level.
Senior outside hitter Cole Pender (UCLA) and senior middle blocker Ethan Talley (Ohio State) have secured college commitments for the Sailors.
CIF Southern Section Division 1 boys’ volleyball championship
Where: Cerritos College (11110 Alondra Blvd., Norwalk, CA 90650)