Boys' Volleyball: Costa Mesa claims Bell at home

COSTA MESA — Spring break is this week for Costa Mesa High. The boys' volleyball team doesn't have much time off, though.

The Mustangs went to school on Monday and prepared for an upcoming Orange Coast League match. The next day, they returned to the gym to play host to their rival, Estancia.

Costa Mesa senior Noah JeyaRajah said it was still a little hard getting up for the Eagles during spring break. And it showed in the first set on Tuesday, as the Eagles jumped out to a seven-point lead.

Costa Mesa Coach Ricardo doMonte called a timeout to tell his team what went wrong.

"We gave them 11 points, because they actually only hit one ball that went down at the corner over there," said doMonte, pointing at the spot and then the errors his Mustangs committed. "We need to step up. Their best player is not on the court, you know, and we're losing. We need to do something."

The Mustangs snapped out of it after they figured out Estancia started a sophomore at setter for the first time because Coach Paul Muñoz sat Joey Mittner in the first set because of disciplinary issues.

Costa Mesa closed out the first set by going on a 21-5 run and it dominated the rest of the way, sweeping the Eagles, 25-16, 25-10, 25-9, and keeping them winless in league.

Costa Mesa only has two victories in league, but the wins are big, each coming against Estancia (0-6 in league). The Mustangs (2-4 in league) won both matches in the annual Battle for the Bell series for the first time during JeyaRajah's time with the program.

Like many other sports teams that win the rivalry between the two schools, the volleyball team planned to eat ribs afterward.

"An anonymous donor decided to buy us ribs since they didn't provide it," JeyaRajah said with a grin.

JeyaRajah's brother, Adam, reminded the Mustangs of what was at stake before the second set.

"My dad said if we win this, he's buying us all ribs," Adam said to his teammates.

Costa Mesa began the second set much better than it did in the first. The Mustangs scored seven of the first eight points and never looked back.

The JeyaRajah brothers performed well during the second set. Noah recorded seven of his 16 kills and Adam produced a couple of his three service aces.

At one point, Estancia's Dalton O'Daly kept yelling, "Watch float" whenever Adam served late in the second set. Adam put a little more on his serve and the Eagles struggled with it.

Noah was more impressed with how his brother hammered a shot.

"He had, like, his first nice kill of the year," Noah said.

Adam finished with a couple of kills to go with a couple of blocks.

The Eagles' kill leaders were Jacob Sperling and Josh Lopez, who finished with three apiece. Their numbers were low because Estancia's offense had issues getting into a rhythm.

Not having Mittner out there hurt, but Muñoz had a reason for limiting his play.

"It's all about sending a message to these kids," Muñoz said. "They need to know that they can't get away with stuff that they think they can get away with. We don't have a winning record. If I can get at least that out of it, we're going somewhere."

The Eagles play on Thursday before they can take time off during spring break. They get to play at Laguna Beach, the best team in league and the No. 2-ranked team in CIF Southern Section Division 2 poll.

Costa Mesa plays host to Godinez on Thursday. JeyaRajah said the match is a must-win situation if the Mustangs want a shot at making the playoffs.

If the Mustangs can beat Godinez for the first time this season, they have something to look forward to the next day. Their coach has already given them Friday off.

Twitter: @DCPenaloza

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