The Newport Harbor High boys’ volleyball team capped an outstanding year Saturday with the CIF Southern California Regional Division 1 championship after an impressive 18-25, 25-17, 25-12, 25-19 victory against Manhattan Beach Mira Costa.
Not only did the Sailors (39-1) beat the Mustangs for the second consecutive week after capturing the Southern Section title, Newport Harbor upended Mira Costa for the fourth time this year.
"This is just a huge sigh of relief," Pepperdine-bound Joe Karlous said. "It's pure happiness. All the 6 a.m. lifts, all the times we were pissed off at each other and then come together as a unit. It's pure happiness."
Things didn't get off to a good start for the Sailors, who lost to Corona Del Mar in the 2018 section and regional championship matches. Newport Harbor was flat and Mira Costa grabbd the first set. Newport Harbor quickly recovered and ran away with the match. An 11-9 lead in the second set grew to 14-10 and 20-15 before tying the match at a set apiece.
A 12-8 lead in the third set became 17-10 and Caden Garrido's block ended it giving Newport Harbor a 2-1 lead.
It was just more of the same in the fourth set. The early 9-5 lead swelled to 15-7 before a small comeback from Mira Costa made it 23-18.
"In the huddle after we lost the first game it was along the lines of like it's time to go," Karlous said. "It doesn't matter what is in our way. Just go and go hard. The word is believe. That one word takes us where we want to go. We knew what they were capable of doing. Mira Costa is a good team. We just had to keep our foot on the pedal."
Mira Costa coach Avery Drost was impressed, too.
"Only one team beat them all year," Drost said, referring to Corona del Mar. "It's an incredibly difficult team to beat. We tried four times. We took them to five sets and had it 9-9 in the fifth earlier in the year. We had chances but that is a special group. They were a touch shaky in the first set and we started fast. They adjusted and their service pressure picked up. We weren't getting clean kills when we needed it."
Karlous stepped up his level of play and Dayne Chalmers, who finished with 21 kills, was also key for Newport Harbor, which advanced to the title match after outlasting Loyola in five sets on Tuesday. Jack Higgs added 12 kills for the Sailors.
"We served the crap out of the ball and all the little things added up to big things," Karlous said. "Side out, blocking, all the little things were huge.
Chalmers added: "This means the world to us especially after last year. It's good to go out the right way. We made up for last year in a sense. Our consistency and trust in each other was huge. We believed. Coach Rocky [Ciarelli] gave us motivation. He basically told us this is our very last chance. It has to be done now."
Drost was tremendously impressed with Karlous and Chalmers.