Top 10 Stories of the Year: Amazing Sea Kings best of 2013

When it comes to the top 10 Newport-Mesa sports stories of 2013, as selected by the Daily Pilot sports staff, a singular mantra emerges: Work hard. Compete. Win. Celebrate. Repeat.

Five of the top six stories in 2013 shared similar status in 2012, though all but one moved to a new position in the lineup.

Corona del Mar High football, which added a CIF State title to its three consecutive CIF Southern Section Southern Division crowns, tops the list for the second time in three years. It was No. 2 last year.

Back Bay girls' water polo, beach volleyball, UC Irvine men's volleyball, which repeated as NCAA champion in 2013, and the perennially important Toshiba Classic senior golf tour event were repetitively relevant the last two years.

Additionally, Sage Hill School girls' volleyball and UCI men's soccer, which have spots in the lower portion of this year's Top 10, held similar positions in the final 2011 tally.

In short, there was little new under the Newport-Mesa sun when it came to ultimate happenings in sports. But the fact that achievement on such a high level could become commonplace, speaks to the high caliber of competition those who call this area home are regularly treated to.

Here's this year's foremost sports stories.

1 – CORONA DEL MAR HIGH FOOTBALL – Football has officially joined the list of sports in which Corona del Mar High regularly posts title banners, as this year's record-setting squad produced two.

Coach Scott Meyer, in his third season at the helm, led the Sea Kings to a 16-0 record, a first in California history shared with St. John Bosco, the CIF State Division III title and the team's third straight CIF Southern Section Southern Division crown.

The Sea Kings, who will take a 26-game winning streak into the 2014 season, defeated Sacred Heart Prep, 27-15, in the Division III state bowl game on Dec. 21 in Carson. They topped Garden Grove, 42-21, on Dec. 6 at Orange Coast College to pocket their Newport-Mesa-best fifth CIF Southern Section division championship in football.

The season also included a noteworthy 34-14 win over Back Bay rival Newport Harbor to end a six-game losing streak against the Sailors, who advanced to the CIF Southern Section Southwest Division final.

CdM was No. 21 in the final state rankings and its 26-game streak is the longest in the state.

Senior center Giovanni Gentosi earned Pacific Coast League Most Valuable Player recognition for anchoring the all-senior offensive line. He started 44 games in three seasons, during which CdM was 40-4.

Senior quarterback Luke Napolitano passed for a school single-season record 2,645 yards and his 197 completions were also a single-season best for the program. He also holds CdM career marks of 2,703 yards and 203 completions.

Junior running back Cole Martin (1,870 rushing yards, 21 rushing touchdowns and 126 total points) also broke CdM single-season marks, as did junior receivers Cole Collins (60 receptions and 1,000 receiving yards) and Bo St. Geme (60 receptions).

Napolitano, Martin, Collins and St. Geme were first-team All-PCL honorees, as were senior guard Brett Olson, senior tight end Braden Brahs, junior defensive ends Parker Chase (16 sacks) and Harrison Carter, junior linebacker Hoyt Crance and junior cornerback Brett Greenlee.

The Sea Kings scored at least 34 points in 12 games and posted four shutouts. The team's 548 points were not only a school record, but the most in Newport-Mesa single-season annals.

2 – BACK BAY GIRLS' WATER POLO – Corona del Mar High rallied to defeat rival Newport Harbor, 6-5, in the CIF Southern Section Division 1 final to claim the program's first CIF crown in Division 1.

The win avenged an 8-7 title-game loss to the Sailors in 2012 and capped a dramatic playoff run in which the No. 3-seeded Sea Kings (27-4) erased a two-goal deficit to Los Alamitos in the quarterfinals and a three-goal deficit against Foothill in the semifinals.

Senior Ally McCormack had four goals in the final, and was joined on the Newport-Mesa Dream Team by teammates Cassidy Papa, Erica Weed as well as sisters Stephanie and Ioanna Haralabidis.

Papa, who produced 51 goals, 53 assists and 31 steals, was named CIF Division 1 and Pacific Coast League MVP and shared Newport-Mesa Player of the Year laurels with Newport Harbor junior goalie Cleo Harrington.

The Haralabidis sisters (first team) were All-CIF, as were McCormack (second team) and Weed (third team).

Also representing Coach Bill Barnett's Sailors (24-7) on the Dream Team were Carly Christian, the Sunset League Player of the Year and a first-tem All-CIF honoree, as well as Elissia Schilling, Avery Peterson and Carolyn Smith.

Schilling and Peterson (first team), as well as Harrington (second team), were All-CIF choices.

CdM, coached by Sam Bailey, earned the program's first Southern Section crown since a Division 2 title in 2006.

3 – LOCALS IN BEACH VOLLEYBALL – Costa Mesa residents April Ross and Jake Gibb were named female and male Athlete of the Year, respectively, on the beach by USA Volleyball. Both also collected multiple honors from the Assn. of Volleyball Professionals tour.

The AVP tour was relaunched with a seven-event schedule in 2013 as new owner Donald Son, a Newport Beach resident who headquartered the AVP in Costa Mesa, put his conservative business plan in place with the formerly troubled beach tour.

Ross, a 2012 Olympic silver medalist who ended her longtime partnership with Jennifer Kessy to complete the season with all-time beach victories leader Kerri Walsh Jennings, earned six tournament titles and several additional top-three finishes in domestic and international events.

Ross won three times on the AVP tour and twice on the Federation International de Volleyball circuit in 2013.

Ross, a former Newport Harbor High indoor standout, was named Most Valuable Player, Best Offensive Player and Server of the Year by the AVP, which awarded Team of the Year to her and Kessy.

Gibb, 37, a two-time Olympian who partnered for the first time with Casey Patterson, won four straight AVP men's events and finished third in three other AVP tournaments in 2013. In addition, Gibb and Patterson won earned one crown and one runner-up finish in FIVB events.

The 6-foot-7 veteran was named MVP of the AVP tour and, along with Patterson, collected Team of the Year honors.

4 – UCI MEN'S VOLLEYBALL – The Anteaters, under first-year coach David Kniffin, who stepped in after John Speraw took over at UCLA, swept top-seeded BYU in the final at UCLA to claim the program's second straight NCAA crown, its fourth national championship in seven seasons.

Senior outside hitter Kevin Tillie earned first-team All-American honors, while junior outside hitter Connor Hughes, a Costa Mesa resident, was named MVP of the Final Four.

Sophomore libero Michael Brinkley and junior middle blocker Collin Mehring collected first- and second-team All-American recognition, respectively, and senior setter Chris Austin, who also triggered the attack in the 2012 postseason, earned all-tournament honors at the NCAA championships.

Other standouts for UCI included junior middle blocker Scott Kevorken, sophomore opposite Zack La Cavera, junior outside hitter Jeremy Dejno, freshman outside hitter Kyle Russell, junior setter Daniel Stork and junior super sub Travis Woloson.

UCI, which relied on a deep and talented roster to post a 25-7 record, carried the No. 1 national ranking into the 2014 campaign.

5 – NEWPORT HARBOR FOOTBALL – Coach Jeff Brinkley guided the Sailors to the CIF Southern Section Southwest Division final, their eighth trip to the championship game in his 28-season tenure.

But the season did not initially appear that promising as the Tars alternated wins and losses until posting their first two-game winning streak in the ninth game of the regular-season. They lost to Huntington Beach in the regular-season finale, which held a chance to earn a share of the Sunset League crown.

But with multitalented senior receiver, cornerback and kick returner Quest Truxton, junior quarterback Cole Norris and senior two-way lineman Ramsey Hufford leading the way, the Sailors rebounded nicely to put together three straight playoff wins, including a 49-48 upset of top-seeded La Habra in the quarterfinals.

Newport led the title game, 21-14, over Huntington Beach in the third quarter, before the Oilers exploded to claim a 42-28 triumph and drop the Sailors to 8-6.

Truxton, who set school single-season records for receptions (83) and receiving yards (1,325), was named Sunset League Offensive Player of the Year. He scored 20 touchdowns.

Norris (2,959 passing yards and a school single-season record 27 touchdown passes) was the league's Co-Offensive Back of the Year.

Senior cornerback Cory Stowell was named Defensive Back of the Year in the league, while Hufford was named league Co-Defensive Lineman of the Year.

Additional first-team all-league performers for the Sailors were: junior linebacker Riley Gaddis, junior tailback Chance Siemonsma, junior defensive end Brett Beaudette, senior safety Garrett Hall, senior tight end Alex De Soto and senior noseguard Joe Zavala.

6 – TOSHIBA CLASSIC – South African David Frost birdied four of the final five holes to turn a one-shot lead with eight holes left into a tournament-record-tying five-stroke victory over runner-up Fred Couples in the 19th annual Champions Tour event at Newport Beach Country Club.

Frost's 54-hole total was 19-under-par 194, matching the even's low score, previously posted by Jay Haas in 2007.

It was the fourth Champions' tour win for Frost, 53, who pocketed the $262,500 winner's purse.

Haas and Peter Senior tied for third, while Tom Watson finished fifth.

The event raised more than $1.1 million for charity.

7 – SAGE HILL GIRLS' VOLLEYBALL – In its third straight trip to the CIF Southern Section Division final, the Lightening avenged a league loss to Crean Lutheran with a 25-18, 25-21, 25-17 sweep to claim the Division 3A crown, the program's third section championship in its 14-season history.

Coach Dan Thomassen's team, which did not lose a set in the Southern Section playoffs, went on to reach the Southern California Regional final before falling to top-seeded Visalia Central Valley Christian in four sets to finish 28-6. It was Sage Hill's deepest postseason run.

Junior outside hitter Kekai Whitford was named Academy League Most Valuable Player, while junior outside hitter Halland McKenna and junior setter Maddy Abbott were first-team all-league honorees.

Senior libero Allie Mowrey and senior middle blocker Juliette Singarella were second-team all-league selections, while senior Claudia Noto received honorable mention in all-league voting.

8 – UCI MEN'S SOCCER – The Anteaters won the Big West Conference regular-season and tournament titles and defeated North Carolina, 1-0, at home to advance to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament.

Coach George Kuntz's 19th season included a 15-5-3 record, including regular-season wins over then-nationally ranked Louisville, UCLA and Cal State Northridge.

Senior Enrique Cardenas and senior Marco Franco earned All-American recognition to help the 'Eaters post their fourth NCAA Tournament appearance in six seasons. Cardenas was named Midfielder of the Year and Franco was named Defender of the Year by Big West coaches.

The trip the Sweet 16, which ended with a 1-0 loss to eventual NCAA runner-up Maryland, matched the 2008 squad for the deepest postseason run in UCI history.

Senior Christopher Santana was a second-team all-conference performer, while defender Michael Sperber made the Big West All-Freshman team.

Kuntz, surprisingly, left after the season to take over the program at Cal State Fullerton and Chris Volk, Kuntz's top assistant for 17 seasons, was named head coach at UCI a week later.

9 – UCI MEN'S BASKETBALL – The Anteaters went 13-1 at home, reached the title game of the Big West Tournament and defeated High Point in the opening round of the Tournament, the program's first national postseason victory since 1986.

Seniors Adam Folker (Big West Hustle Award), Mike Wise and Daman Starring, as well as sophomore Will Davis (Best Defensive Player) and Alex Young (Freshman of the Year) helped Coach Russell Turner's Anteaters finish 21-16, with its long home loss to LSU.

Turner and his staff then brought in a strong recruiting class that included 7-foot-6 center Mamadou Ndiaye and 6-3 guard Luke Nelson from Great Britain, prompting UCI, which has never been to the NCAA Tournament, to be picked to win the Big West Conference in 2014.

10. BACK BAY VOLLEYBALL COACHING SHUFFLE – Marissa Booker, who played at Newport Harbor High, then coached at rival Corona del Mar, created a bit of a chain reaction when she stepped down from her post with the Sea Kings girls after the 2013 campaign.

Steve Astor, who had coached the Newport Harbor boys, was named in June to replace Booker at the helm of the CdM girls, creating an opening filled at Newport by former Sailors assistant Bryan Cottriel.

Adding to the Back Bay angle, Cottriel, hired by Newport Harbor in June, had been the junior varsity coach and varsity assistant under Steve Conti with the CdM boys program in 2013.

Others: The Daily Pilot Cup continues to flourish; UCI junior pitcher Andrew Thurman, the 40th overall pick in the Major League Draft, signs $1.4 million contract with Houston Astros; Orange Coast College wins the women's state cross country championship; Corona del Mar High boys' and girls' swim teams finish second at their respective CIF Southern Section Division 1 championships; The Corona del Mar High boys' lacrosse team advances to U.S. Lacrosse Southern Section South Division title game. Corona del Mar High girls' golf features sophomore Amy Matsuoka (Pacific Coast League champion) and freshman Alyaa Abdulghany who both compete in the CIF Southern Section Individual Championship and WSCGA Qualifying Tournament. Abdulghany reaches CIF/WSCGA Southern State Regional; Evan Chalmers returns as baseball coach at Newport Harbor High; Misty May-Treanor announces her first pregnancy.

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