Loyola and Mira Costa win to set up Division 1 championship volleyball showdown

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Sean Kelly had just watched on TV his future team, UCLA, win the NCAA championship in men’s volleyball, so the Loyola High senior was already in a jubilant mood taking the court against Newport Harbor on Saturday night in a match that would decide a spot in the Southern Section Division 1 championship match on May 11.

Newport Harbor wasn’t about to let Kelly and the Cubs celebrate without a battle. The Cubs dropped the first set, then rode 36 kills and four aces from the 6-foot-7 Kelly to win the match 18-25, 25-23, 25-18, 29-27. Loyola will play its longtime volleyball rival Mira Costa in the final. Mira Costa defeated Corona del Mar on Saturday 3-1.

“This is for the championship,” Kelly said. “That’s our rival.”

Kelly lives in Manhattan Beach and is good friends with many of the Mira Costa players. He had 30 kills on March 22 when Loyola defeated Mira Costa 3-1 in Manhattan Beach.

The Sailors did their best to spoil the Loyola-Mira Costa final. Riggs Guy was making kills, and combined with some excellent passing, Newport Harbor forced the Cubs into mistakes. But almost every time Loyola needed a point, Kelly would rise up and deliver.

“He’s so level-headed,” Loyola coach Michael Boehle said. “He never gets too up, never gets too down. This was a tough one.”

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