Playing on its home court for the final time this season, the Mira Costa High boys volleyball team was not about to let the fans down.
The Mustangs continued their methodical march to the Southern California Regional championship by sweeping Los Angeles Jordan 25-11, 25-17, 25-22 Thursday night to advance to the Division II finals. The team, seeded No. 1 in regionals, will go for its second regional title in three years.
The Mustangs (34-4), who won their seventh CIF Southern Section crown with a five-set triumph over Loyola in the Division 1 finals last Saturday at Cypress College, succeeded in eliminating their second consecutive CIF section champion Thursday, having swept Southern Section Division 4 winner Los Angeles Cathedral 25-9, 25-12, 25-13 two days earlier.
Jordan had one star, senior outside hitter Cesar Medina, who pounded a match-high 17 kills, but he wasn't enough for the Bulldogs to pull off the upset.
"We knew they had a big hitter and that we'd have a size advantage at most of the positions," Mira Costa assistant coach Mike Longacre said. "The Southern Section is by far the toughest in the nation and that definitely helped prepare us. Having to play Dana Hills in the quarters, Esperanza in the semis and of course Loyola in the finals--that's as difficult as it gets."
The Mustangs' attack was balanced. Middle blocker Ryan Kaseff had eight kills, outside hitter Ryan Mallon had seven, outside hitters Christopher Orenic and Casey White each had five, opposite hitter Karl Acres had four and Kevin Inlow, Michael Debevec and Grant Chalmers each added three.
On Tuesday, Jordan, the Los Angeles City Section Division II champion, had eliminated Southern Section Division 3 champion South Torrance in three sets in the opening round of the regionals. However, the fourth-seeded Bulldogs (38-6-1) were unable to establish an offensive flow against Mira Costa.
"They have a lot of good players and we don't get much competition in our league," Medina said. "They play much better teams throughout the season. Still, I wasn't intimidated, we had nothing to lose and didn't want to go down easy."
Acres' back-to-back kills gave Mira Costa a commanding 13-4 lead in the first set and Kaseff's kill increased the lead to 21-8. Acres ended the set on a kill off a pass from libero Duncan Lau. White served three aces in set two, which ended on back-to-back kills by Kaseff and Mallon.
After trailing by as many as five points in the third set, Jordan crept to within 23-21 and 24-22 before the Mustangs ended it with a spike that was blocked out of bounds.
"We hadn't played them before but we read in the newspaper that Medina was legit and he was," White said. "I was really surprised with him, but we have so many ways to attack. It's a lot easier for the setter to distribute the ball around and that makes us a hard team to defend."
Mira Costa will face third-seeded Oak Park (30-6), the CIF-SS Division 2 winner, for the regional title Saturday at 5 p.m. at Irvine Valley College.
The Mustangs beat Oak Park 25-17, 27-25 in the Gold Division of the Best of the West Tournament in San Diego in March.
SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA REGIONAL PLAYOFFS
DIVISION II SEMIFINALS
Score by Sets
0Mira Costa 25
Records: Jordan 38-6-1; Mira Costa 34-4.