The Newport Harbor High boys’ volleyball team carried an undefeated record into the CIF Southern Section Division 1 championship match last season.
Back Bay rival Corona del Mar stepped in the Sailors’ way before they could make history.
Of the 15 players on the Newport Harbor roster this year, eight are seniors and six are juniors. For most of them, this season will be about redemption after being denied in the title match.
Newport Harbor has sung a different tune recently when competing at the Orange County Championships.
Senior outside hitter Dayne Chalmers had a team-high eight kills, and the Sailors defeated Huntington Beach 25-20, 25-21 to secure their third straight county crown on Saturday at Edison High.
The Sailors (13-0) gave little away. They had just three service errors as a team, none of which came in the clinching second set.
Joe Karlous, a Pepperdine commit, spread the ball around for his 20 assists. Senior middle blocker Alec Patterson had six kills and 3½ blocks, while senior opposite Jack Higgs had five kills and two blocks.
“I would say that he just knows where to go,” Patterson said of Karlous. “He’s been playing the game for so long, that he just has such a good grasp on the game of volleyball and the dynamics of what works and what doesn’t.
“We had our share of plays, for sure, but overall, Joe just gets [the ball] to the right people, which makes this team work.”
Sailors coach Rocky Ciarelli praised Patterson, who has come in and filled the starting middle blocker spot left by recent graduate Ethan Talley (Ohio State). He was quick to pounce when Karlous gave him a quick set in the middle.
“Alec has come in and done a good job,” Ciarelli said. “I kind of saw it last year. At the end, he really started to improve, and he has just kept going into this year.”
Senior outside hitter Blake Ludes had three kills, two blocks and a service ace. In Game 2, Ludes and Patterson combined on three consecutive blocks, extending Newport Harbor’s lead to 16-12 in the final set.
“I would say that we’re a pretty physical team, although me on the pin, I probably don’t look like a big, physical presence,” Ludes said. “We work on [blocking], and it paid off.”
Nathan Goode had eight kills and four blocks to lead the Oilers (9-3).
“Nathan Goode stepped up huge in the last two matches, against CdM and Newport,” Oilers coach Craig Pazanti said. “He played great. He’s probably our best blocker, and just being able to move him from the left to the right kind of gives us a little bit of flexibility, especially when you’re playing against a team as good as [the Sailors] are.”
Niko Colburn had eight kills and two aces, Aidan Knipe distributed 17 assists, and Drake Goering chipped in with three kills.
Huntington Beach reached the final with three wins on Saturday. The Oilers beat Los Alamitos 25-16, 16-25, 15-9 to complete pool play. They beat Woodbridge 25-18, 25-16 in the first round of the playoffs, and they edged CdM 25-22, 25-22 in the semifinals.
“All in all, I would say that I’m pretty happy about the weekend,” Pazanti said. “You got a chance to play three of the top six or seven teams in CIF and go 2-1 against them.
“To get good wins against good teams is good. I know it’s a lot of the teams that we’re going to see in [the Surf] League and then in crossover matches, as well, but any time that you’re playing against good teams and playing good volleyball, you’re getting better.”