Volleyball rivals battle for top spot in Bay

Whether its boys or girls, volleyball matches between Mira Costa and Redondo showcase much of the best high school talent the South Bay has to offer and Thursday’s showdown between the two rivals will continue the tradition of packed gyms, Bay League championship implications on the line, and bragging rights at stake for the winner.

D.J. White and the top-ranked Mira Costa Mustangs have lofty goals this season and continue their quest for a CIF and national title when they host fifth-ranked Redondo in a crucial Bay League match Thursday at 7 p.m. Photo by Ray Vidal

This season’s first battle between the cross-town foes will take place at 7 p.m. inside the friendly confines of Mira Costa’s Fisher Gym but if fans want a seat to watch two of the CIF Southern Section’s top five teams in Division 1 battle it out, it is suggested they arrive early.

To say Mira Costa is on a roll would be an understatement. The top-ranked Mustangs survived its first come-from-behind victory, beating No. 3 Loyola in five games just before spring break.

Mira Costa spent last week in Hawaii where Coach Mike Ninnis and his boys remained undefeated by beating two of the island’s best – both with three-game sweeps. Ranked as the nation’s No. 1 team in the ESPN Rise poll, Mira Costa defeated Iolani (No. 18 in the nation) 25-16, 25-23, 25-20 last Friday behind D.J. White’s 12 kills and five digs.

Christopher Orenic and Karl Acres added nine kills each for the Mustangs, who took on Punahoe – the defending national champion and the fifth-ranked team – in a Saturday evening match up of two perennial powers.

On the next to last day of spring break, Mira Costa got off to a slow start with its first lead not coming until an ace by Orenic put the Mustangs ahead 23-22 in the first game.

Hitting at a .500 clip and forcing hitting errors, the boys from Manhattan Beach took the second set 25-10. Momentum carried over into the third game with White, who had a match-high 11 kills, leading the charge. But Punahoe stormed back to tie the set 24-24 before Orenic scored a kill of a block and a Punahoe miscommunication led to a ball dropping between two defenders giving Mira Costa a 26-24 victory.

Jake Miller recorded 10 kills and Orenic and Acres scored seven apiece for the Mustangs. Setter Kameron Bain had 35 assists and five blocks and Keith Waddell contributed two kills and seven blocks.

Trevor Butler and the fifth-ranked Redondo Sea Hawks hope to hand rival Mira Costa its first loss of the season with an upset victory on Thursday. Photo by Ray Vidal

The wins kept Mira Costa on pace as the team seeks its fifth national championship and first since 2001. The Mustangs (14-0) continued Bay League action Tuesday hosting West and knows they can ill afford to look past any opponent.

Redondo (17-4) hasn’t played since defeating Palos Verdes 25-17, 25-17, 25-22 on March 31 and is ranked No. 5 in the CIF Southern Section Division 1 poll and 25th nationally in the ESPN Rise poll. The Sea Hawks would like nothing more than to knock off Mira Costa and jump into the driver’s seat in the race for the Bay League title.

“Redondo is always nipping at our heels, trying to upset us,” Orenic said. “But that’s what makes it such a great rivalry.”

Mira Costa will have little time to rest after its emotionally-charged game with Redondo. The Mustangs will compete in the Santa Barbara Tournament Friday and Saturday before hosting Palos Verdes on Tuesday.

Redondo plays at Peninsula Tuesday in a 4:15 p.m. contest.


Mira Costa and Redondo faced stiff competition in the Anaheim Lions Tournament, both dropping the final two of their five games in the tournament.

After Mira Costa (11-6) couldn’t capitalize on Bret Collins 3-for-3 performance and dropped a 3-1 decision to Sonora, the Mustangs fell to Capistrano Valley 6-1. Derek Largent had an RBI double and Turner Conrad went 2-for-3 in the loss.

Mira Costa resumes Bay League action hosting West Friday at 3:15 p.m. before playing a non-league home game against Loyola Saturday at 11 a.m. The Mustangs host Leuzinger Tuesday and Crespi Wednesday in 3:15 p.m. contests.

Redondo concluded the Anaheim Lions Tournament with an 8-1 loss to Saugus and a 5-2 defeat at the hands of Lompoc. Matt Esparza went 2-for-3 in the Lompoc loss.

The Sea Hawks host Leuzinger Friday in a 7 p.m. game and Westchester Saturday at 4 p.m. Redondo travels to Palos Verdes (No. 10 in Division 2) Wednesday for a 3:15 p.m. game.


Mira Costa (11-2-1) went wild at the plate, amassing 40 hits in a non-league sweep at Temple City. Chloe Krasnoff went 5-for-6 on the day with a home run, five RBIs and six runs scored. Stefanni Lajuenesse had five hits in eight at bats including a home run, five RBIs and three runs.

The Mustangs, ranked No. 5 in Division 3, host Leuzinger Friday and West on Wednesday in 3:15 p.m. contests before playing at rival Redondo Friday, April 22 in a 7 p.m. game.

Redondo is coming off a 7-6 victory over Temescal Canyon and a 9-0 win against Newport Harbor in its final two games of the prestigious Woodbridge Tournament.

“We had a great weekend in the Woodbridge tournament Saturday winning both games and placed 5th in the silver bracket,” Sea Hawk head coach Jennifer Dessert said. “As for the Bay League this year, I predict that Redondo, Palos Verdes and Mira Costa will be fighting over the top three spots and each of our games against each other will be intense and exciting.”

Redondo (7-7) is led by a group of seniors including its three team captains, pitching ace Brett Aspel, third baseman Linda Park, who is batting .390 with a team-high four home runs and seven doubles, and shortstop Cindy Zamudio, who is leading the team with a .422 batting average.

Dessert is also receiving strong performances from catcher Jessica Cotton and power-hitting outfielder Jennifer Stevens (.316, 3 home runs, 16 RBIs).

The Sea Hawks travel to Palos Verdes Friday before hosting Leuzinger Wednesday. Both games are slated for 3:15 p.m.


Mira Costa and Redondo spent the end of spring break competing in the Arcadia Invitational, where nearly 3,900 athletes representing 540 schools took part in the nation’s largest track event run by a high school.

Redondo captured the 4×800 invitational relay when Dezhan Bland sprinted from fourth to first in the final leg to finish in 7:55.01. The time gave Bland and teammates Evan Malone-White, Nick Herold and Garrett Klatte the best time in the state the nation’s third best this season.

The Sea Hawks placed 27th  in the 4×1,600 (19:14.17), Bland placed 21st in the 800 (1:58.24) and Redondo’s relay team of Christian Bassman, Jonathan Allagoa, Derrick Duran and Cameron Lawler finished 48th in the 440 relay (44.77).

Mira Costa’s team of Corbin Gates, Ryan Hornstra, Kyle Hubbard and Tommy Lastrape placed second in the 4×100 shuttle hurdles relay with a time of 1:04.67. Hubbard also placed 31st in the 300 hurdles (41.49).

In the pole vault, Mustang Ryan Morrow finished in a tie for 4th with a height of 14-7.

In girls competition, Redondo’s Olivia Loveland, Brenda Sopp, Anique Villegas and Lyndsey Mull finished second in the 4×800 relay with a mark of 9:30.72.

The Sea Hawks team of Shelby Bassman, Haley Miller, Ruby Davis and Kayla Patterson placed 6th in the 4×200 relay (1:48.19) but 43rd in the 400 relay (51.02).

In the distance medley, Redondo’s Cara Ulizio, Loveland, Rachel Bush and Mull finished 9th (12:21.00). Ulizio placed 8th in the 3,200 (10:57.65) and 16th in the 1,600 (5:11.24),  Kayla Ferron was 18th in the 3,200 (11:07.82) and 33rd in the 800 (2:26.96) and Kelly Ryan placed 12th in the 3,200 (11:02.44).

Mira Costa distance runner Kelli Sugimoto placed 6th in the 3,200 (10:53.26) and the Mustang relay team of Kirby Benson, Ashlee Dotson, Taylor Foland and Camille Mills finished 23rd in the 400 relay with a time of 49.97.

Mira Costa will compete Friday and Saturday in the South Bay Championships at West Torrance while Redondo competes in the Mt. SAC Relays on the same days.

Redondo has a Bay League dual meet at West Thursday at 2:45 and will host Mira Costa in a dual meet Friday, April 22 at 5 p.m.

Boys Lacrosse

First-year head coach Chris Jewett has kept the winning tradition alive at Mira Costa. The Mustangs (7-3) are ranked 52nd in the LaxPower Southern California ratings.

Mira Costa hosts Downey Friday at 7 p.m., plays at Chaminade Monday in a 6 p.m. match and hosts Redondo Wednesday at 7 p.m.

Redondo (7-4) is ranked No. 115 in the same poll and hosts Culver City Friday at 6 p.m. and El Dorado Tuesday in a 5 p.m. contest.

Girls Lacrosse

Redondo’s program has evolved to become the best in the area and is positioned to win its third consecutive Bay League. The Sea Hawks are 7-0 in Bay League play and have already defeated the five teams remaining on their schedule by a total of 49 goals. 

Coach Tom Borgia’s team is currently ranked No. 6 in the Laxpower ratings of teams in the Southern Section.

“Our first goal is to go undefeated in Bay League again,” Borgia said. “We are hoping to have a good run through the playoffs and our goal is to get to the CIF finals again this year, which will be at Redondo Union on May 14.”

Leading the Sea Hawk offense is led by Julia Denney and Allison Field, both captains and four-year starting midfielder. Denney has a team-high 38 goals and 11 assists while the speedy Field has recorded 31 goals and nine assists.

Southpaw Micayla Kotzbach has 21 goals and 10 assists, Bailey Czech has scored 18 goals and Brittany Ross and Allison Kotzbach have scored 16 goals apeice.

Four-year starter Ava Elsner leads the stingy Sea Hawk defense.

“Ava is a very smart player who is a fierce competitor and like a coach on the field,” Borgia commented. “Sophomore goalie Heather Czech, who has started every game the last two years, has great stick speed and the maturity of a senior.” 

Redondo (12-2, 8-0) is coming off a 12-6 win at Beverly Hills Monday when Micayla Kotzbach had four goals and two assists, Bailey Czech added four goals, Field scored three goals, Allison Kotzbach had one and Heather Czech recorded seven saves.

The Sea Hawks play at Culver City Friday and host La Canada Tuesday. Both games are scheduled to start at 6 p.m.

Mira Costa (8-5, 6-2) is led by Lexi Kurugian, Carly McGuire, Taylor Pool and Lia Sepanek. Prior to spring break, the Mustangs battled from a 14-7 deficit in a 16-12 loss to Redondo.

Mira Costa, whose only two league losses have been to Redondo, travels at Downey Friday at 4 p.m. before hosting Palos Verdes Wednesday in a 7 p.m. contest.

“The girls are constantly improving and I was very proud of the way the girls played against Redondo,” Coach Amanda Cross said. “We have two games against two top teams in Orange County coming up, which will be good experience for the girls.  Many of the other teams in the Bay league are also constantly improving so it will be interesting to see how the remainder of the season works itself out. Hopefully, we can keep making progress and finish the season strong.”  

Boys Golf

Mira Costa (7-2, 5-1 in league) has four scheduled matches this week including one with Redondo Thursday at 2:30 p.m.

“We with a lot of golf to play,” Mustang head coach Bob Timberlake said. “After this week, we have a big pair of matches with South who could easily win Bay league. Then we finish out our season at Cerritos, Edison and San Marcos Santa Barbara. It looks like we will make playoffs and maybe with a bit of luck contend for a league championship.”

Mira Costa is a young team consisting of freshmen JJ Standsburry, James Houston and Kyle Cohen, juniors  David Kim, Krishna Shegran, Evan Westerberg and Lorenzo Gillenwater and senior JP Harper. Only Harper and Kim have varsity experience.

After Thursday’s meeting with Mira Costa, Redondo will play Peninsula at the Palos Verdes Country Club Tuesday at 2:30 p.m.

Boys Tennis

Mira Costa (9-6) is coming off an important Bay League match on Tuesday and is looking to finish the regular season with a winning record.

“Our best wins have come against Loyola, Chadwick and Troy,” Mustang coach Joe Ciasulli said. “However, unlike past years, we are not an elite team like Palos Verdes and Peninsula.  We lost to Peninsula 2-16 and we had to struggle to win those two sets. We play Palos Verdes on Thursday and it will be a similar struggle.”

Palos Verdes is ranked No. 3 and Peninsula holds the sixth spot in the Division poll.

Redondo plays at Peninsula Thursday and at North Monday in a non-league match. Both contest start at 2:30 p.m. The Sea Hawks return home to face West Tuesday at 3 p.m. ER

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