7) SPERAW LEAVES UCI — John Speraw, who in 10 seasons coached the UC Irvine men's volleyball team to three NCAA titles and four Final Four appearances, accepted an offer to replace legendary coach Al Scates, who had retired, at UCLA.
Speraw, who played and coached under Scates, was 199-106 at UCI, where he established the Anteaters as the top program in the nation.
Speraw said a considerable pay raise, a program budget that nearly doubled that of UCI, and the ability to return to his alma mater were deciding factors in leaving Irvine behind.
Speraw's legacy at UCI includes Mountain Pacific Sports Federation titles in 2012, 2009 and 2006, National Coach of the Year honors in 2006 and MPSF Coach of the Year recognition in 2012 and 2006.
The Anteaters held the top national ranking during the seasons of 2012, 2009, 2007, 2006 and 2003 and have appeared in the American Volleyball Coaches Assn. top-15 poll for the last 118 consecutive weeks.
"[Speraw] has meant everything to UCI volleyball," said four-time senior All-American Carson Clark. "The program was nonexistent on the national radar before he came here."
8) OCC BASEBALL — One of the most talented teams in the 64-season history of the program was ranked No. 1 in one national poll for most of the season, won the school's first outright Orange Empire Conference title since 1987 and advanced to the four-team state championship tournament.
Two straight losses in the state tournament brought a hasty end to a 36-7-1 campaign, after which six players were selected in the major league draft.
Freshman pitcher Brandon Brennan (fourth round by the Chicago White Sox), freshman outfielder Bijan Rademacher (13th round, Chicago Cubs), sophomore catcher Stefan Sabol (17th round, New York Mets), freshman outfielder Boog Powell (20th round, Oakland A's) and sophomore shortstop Joel Licon (25th round, Minnesota Twins) all signed professional contracts, rather than honor commitments to four-year schools.
Sophomore outfielder Chris Carlson, the state and conference player of the year, was drafted in the 33rd round by the Red Sox, but chose to go to New Mexico State.
New Mexico State also corralled sophomore Keegan Yuhl, the Orange Empire Conference Pitcher of the Year.
Brennan, Powell, Rademacher and Yuhl joined Carlson as first-team all-state performers, while Licon was a second-team honoree.
The Pirates' .830 winning percentage was the program's best since 1957 and they finished one shy of the school single-season victory record set by the 2009 state champions.
Coach John Altobelli, in his 20th season, was named OEC Coach of the Year and was the conference's Male Coach of the Year in all sports.
9) MURTHA MILESTONES — Estancia High senior tailback Robert Murtha finished a three-year varsity football career with 5,489 rushing yards, 53 rushing touchdowns and 57 touchdowns overall, all Newport-Mesa records.
The three-time Orange Coast League Offensive Player of the Year had 1,594 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns in 2012 to shatter the previous career yardage record of 4,333 set by Costa Mesa High's Binh "Runaway" Tran from 1991-93.
To put Murtha's rushing total in perspective, one would need to average a little more than 98 yards per game and play 14 varsity games per season for four years to surpass it.