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Mira Costa High volleyball wins three of five sets to beat Loyola

A crowd of 2,500 gathers to watch the No. 2 and 3 Southern Section Division 1 rivals compete. Junior Connor Inlow powers a turnaround by the Mustangs.

April 12, 2013|Eric Sondheimer

For one invigorating night, there was a truce in the seemingly never-ending feud between public and private high schools.

On Friday night, the best of high school sports was on display in the annual neighborhood volleyball match between Southern Section Division 1 powers Los Angeles Loyola and Manhattan Beach Mira Costa at Loyola Marymount.

"It's two of the best volleyball programs in the nation," Loyola Coach Michael Boehle said. "We put on a pretty good show."

Mira Costa dropped the first two sets, then rallied to secure a rousing five-set victory before an energetic crowd of more than 2,500. The scores were 24-26, 18-25, 25-16, 25-22 and 15-11.

"It's an amazing atmosphere," Mira Costa's Grant Chalmers said. "Both teams have amazing crowds."

Turning around the match for the Mustangs was 6-foot-6 junior Connor Inlow, who recorded consecutive blocks in the fourth set and was a dominant figure in the middle. He had 10 kills. Scott Stephanoff had 14 kills.

"I think the reason we came back is we believe in ourselves," Chalmers said. "We worried about what we could control. Connor stepped up. I've never seen him play so well in his life."

Loyola has seven players on its roster who live in Manhattan Beach. Many on both teams are friends and play together on club teams or at the beach. Some will become teammates next season at the same college.

In the stands, a couple of Loyola students were wearing tank tops that read "Beat Costa." A Mira Costa fan waved the sign "Boyola." There was a beach ball being thrown around by Mira Costa fans. It was a party atmosphere as students waved to each other, knowing community bragging rights were at stake.

"I see Loyola fans I'll probably be barbecuing with in the next week or two," Mira Costa Coach Mike Ninnis said.

"It's a good, clean rivalry," Mira Costa assistant coach Sean Shoptaw said.

Among Loyola's players was Hagen Smith, the son of volleyball legend Sinjin Smith. He's headed to UCLA, along with teammate Jackson Bantle, who had 13 kills. They'll be teammates next season with Chalmers.

Loyola is ranked No. 2 and Mira Costa No. 3, behind No. 1 San Clemente, in the Southern Section Division 1.

"The adrenaline is crazier than I've had before," Inlow said.

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