Cubs could be a bear for CdM

No. 2-seeded Sea Kings attempt to get past No. 3-seeded Loyola for second time this season.


The road in the CIF Southern Section Division I playoffs has been relatively easy for Corona del Mar High.

"We've been pretty fortunate," Coach Steve Conti said. "We've only had one road match [in the first three rounds] and we traveled five or six miles up PCH for that one."

The Sea Kings are at home tonight for the third time during the postseason.

Conti isn't planning on staying put. He normally doesn't when he has his boys' volleyball team in the semifinals.

Conti has led CdM to this round for the ninth time in his 15 years in charge. The previous eight teams have each moved on to the final.


Of all the semifinal appearances under Conti, tonight's might be the toughest test. The second-seeded Sea Kings (23-8) play host to defending champion Loyola of Los Angeles at 7.

These two programs last faced each other on a lazy Saturday afternoon April 24 at CdM. The hosts stunned the Cubs, then ranked No. 3 in the country by ESPN RISE.

Conti expects the atmosphere to be different. He's hoping for the same outcome.

The fifth-ranked Cubs (24-3) travel to the Back Bay for the second time in four days. The Cubs' last stop in town was Saturday, when they clawed back at Newport Harbor and won a five-game quarterfinal match.

Conti has the film and came away impressed with third-seeded Loyola.

"Newport Harbor is not one of the easiest places to play," said Conti, whose Sea Kings closed out the regular season with a five-game victory at Newport Harbor in the Battle of the Bay.

"[The Cubs] were down, 14-11, and were able to make plays and come back."

The senior who made the plays late was Steven Irvin.

The Stanford-bound outside hitter recorded back-to-back kills, and then dug a shot to help Loyola tie the game. The Cubs never looked back.

Loyola is one step closer to winning the 11th section crown in its history.

Loyola Coach Michael Boehle and Conti aren't strangers to leading their respective teams to the championship match. Boehle has won four Division I titles at Loyola, three straight from 2003-05.

Conti's lone Division I title came in 2000. He has won twice in Division II and once in Division III.

"We're both similar teams," said Conti, whose team features UC Santa Barbara-bound outside hitter Weston Nielsen and USC-bound outside hitter Joey Booth.

"Any of our five guys can put the ball away."

The Sea Kings will try to put away the Cubs for a chance to get away from home. They would be more than happy to skip town to play in Saturday's final at Cypress College.

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