Loyola boys’ volleyball team wins CIF Division I title — again

| June 27, 2024 | 0 Comments

Loyola High School’s boys varsity volleyball team looks more like a college basketball lineup; five of the six starters are 6 feet, 4 inches or taller, with a pair topping out at 6 feet, 7 inches.

Very few athletes ever get the opportunity to compete for a state title, and of those who do, only half walk away as state champions. The Loyola Cubs swept Mira Costa 25-21, 25-22 and 25-21 at Cerritos College on May 18 to win the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) Southern Section state title. This was the school’s 13th CIF Southern Section title, which is a CIF record.

Reigning king

To anyone unfamiliar with volleyball, the game might look unorganized; a frantic scramble to clobber the ball over the net so the other six guys can then engage in some mad-dashery themselves.

Actually, it’s extremely organized, and each player has a specific position and purpose.

SEAN KELLY in his usual spot, getting ready to spike the ball. Photo: Brody Hannon

Senior Sean Kelly plays outside hitter, which is usually the tallest player on the team (Sean is 6 feet, 7 inches). This is volleyball’s glamorous position and is generally the player who spikes the ball and scores. These are called “kills,” and in Loyola’s state championship game against Mira Costa, Kelly had 15 of them.

The UCLA men’s volleyball team, which defended its NCAA title last month, is certainly lucky. Kelly will be playing for them next year. He was the top high school recruit in the country and recently was named the CIF Player of the Year. This was the second season in a row he’s won the honor. The last Loyola player to be named Player of the Year twice in a row was Parker Blackman in 1985 and ’86.

“Sean will go down as the best volleyball player to ever come out of Loyola,” said Head Coach Michael Boehle.

National champions

This is the last year the California boys’ volleyball state tournament will have a northern and southern champ. Next year, there will be just one tournament to determine a single state champion. But for anyone wondering if Loyola could have defeated the Northern Section champs, consider this: AVCA (American Volleyball Coaches Association) and USA Today recently named Loyola this year’s national champions.

“We’re having that put on our championship rings,” said Boehle.

Another Loyola senior who will be playing in college is outside hitter Emmett Martin. He’s 6 feet, 4 inches and has received a volleyball scholarship from UC Santa Barbara. Parker Schloss was co-MVP of the league with teammate Sean Kelly. Other Cubs named to the all-league team included Johnny Gosser, Simon Capps, Hugh Vandeweghe, Kai Klein and Emmett Martin.

Defending champions

Coach Boehle has a lot to look forward to next season. Juniors Simon Capps and Kai Klein return, as does Johnny Gosser, a freshman who plays libero, which is a defensive specialist. And for size, outside hitter Blake Fahlbusch, a sophomore, is 6 feet 7 inches.

The Cubs are in good hands with Boehle. On May 5, the head coach was inducted into the Southern California Indoor Volleyball Hall of Fame. He’s coached at Loyola for 26 years, and he was the 2023 National Coach of the Year. His teams have won seven CIF Division I titles, a record five SoCal regional titles, and four national championships. Boehle also owns Manhattan Beach Surf Volleyball Club in the South Bay, which offers competitive boys’ volleyball teams for ages 12-18 that puts them through high-level coaching and training.

In a 1992 Los Angeles Times article about the AVP (Association of Volleyball Professionals) Pro Beach Tour, Boehle, who played on the circuit at the time, was interviewed.

“If volleyball’s not for me, I’ll go back to school, coach, teach,” he said at the time.

It’s a good thing for Loyola that volleyball was not for Boehle.

TEAM PHOTO: The 2024 Southern Section boys’ volleyball state champion Loyola High School with its team plaque and individual awards. Photo: Jason Cruz

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