Winning a CIF Southern Section title is tough enough. Repeating is that much harder.
Coach Steve Conti found out again how hard it is on Saturday, when his Corona del Mar High boys' volleyball team failed to defend its Division 2 crown.
His Sea Kings took the opening set and all they needed to become the first CdM boys' volleyball team to claim two straight section titles was win two more sets. They never won another set as top-seeded Oak Park went on to take the next three sets to beat second-seeded CdM.
Conti came up short of leading the Sea Kings to back-to-back section title wins once again. He made no excuses.
"The [five] years that we won [section titles], we deserved to win," said Conti, adding that the deserving team on Saturday was Oak Park.
Four times under Conti, CdM has been in position to win two straight section championships.
The first time the Sea Kings tried to complete the back-to-back title run was in 1999, when they lost in four sets to Back Bay rival Newport Harbor in Division I.
The second time was in 2001, as CdM lost in three sets to Santa Ynez in Division IV.
The third time was in 2006 and CdM lost to Valencia in five sets in Division II.
The fourth time, Conti said the Sea Kings ran into a very good and hungry team.
Oak Park denied CdM from making history by making history of its own – winning the program's first section title.
In Oak Park's previous four section title-match appearances in the last six years, it finished second every time.
Winning a section title had been tough on Oak Park.
Oak Park also ended CdM's shot to repeat as the CIF Southern California Regional Division II champion. The Sea Kings cannot even compete for it.
Oak Park earned one of the section's four berths into this week's tournament by winning its division against CdM on Saturday. Mira Costa of Manhattan Beach, South Torrance and Cathedral of Los Angeles are the other three teams, having won the Division 1, 3 and 4 section titles, respectively.
CdM Coach Ryan Schachter said he has heard the tallest kid at CdM Middle School, a 6-foot-8 eighth-grader, is not going to play basketball for the high school.
Michael Cage Jr. is going to attend powerhouse Mater Dei as a freshman next school year. The Monarchs, who claimed the CIF Southern Section Division 1-AA and CIF State Division I titles last season, have one of the most storied programs.
"It doesn't change what I'm doing,' Schachter said of Cage's son not attending high school at CdM. "I'm not going to lose any sleep over it.
"I would've loved the opportunity to coach a kid of that caliber. What coach wouldn't?"
Schachter said the elder Cage, who had his best years with the Los Angeles Clippers in the 1980s, used to come out and help Schachter at CdM. Schachter said he never approached Cage about having his son play for him in high school.
"I wouldn't do that," said Schachter, who considers Cage a friend.
One of the best high school baseball players in the area this season was Alex Trancoso.
The senior center fielder has received recognition for the kind of stellar season he turned in at Estancia.
Trancoso has been selected to the Kiwanis Club of Greater Anaheim's 45th annual Orange County North-SouthAll-Star Gamefor seniors on June 5 at Glover Stadium.
Trancoso helped the Eagles make the CIF Southern Section Division 4 playoffs by placing second in the Orange Coast League.
His regular-season numbers as a leadoff hitter were impressive: a .448 batting average and .525 on-base percentage, 17 runs batted in, nine doubles, one triple, 25 runs scored and 13 for 13 in stolen-base attempts.
"I do not know when an Estancia baseball player has been selected for this in the past [but] this is a huge honor for Alex and a big deal to our program as it continues to grow into a very highly competitive team in Orange County," Estancia Coach Nate Goellrich said in an email. "Only the top seniors in the county get selected for this event."
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