Loyola is the best boys volleyball team in the CIF Southern Section.

If there is an Orange County team that will challenge the Cubs in the CIF-SS Division 1 playoffs, maybe it’s Mater Dei.

In this week’s CIF-SS combined Division 1 and 2 rankings Loyola is No. 1 and Mater Dei is No. 2.

The Monarchs lost to Loyola of Los Angeles back on Feb. 23. Loyola won in three sets.

Maybe Mater Dei is better that it was more than a month ago. The Monarchs on Monday won the championship of the Tesoro Tournament, beating Beckman (No. 4 in the Divisions 1 and 2 rankings) in the semifinals and San Clemente in the finals to avenge an early pool-play loss to San Clemente on Saturday. Mater Dei is 19-4 overall and 4-0 in the Trinity League going into Wednesday’s league home match against JSerra.

“It’s hard to scheme against us,” said Jake Nuneviller, in his first year as Mater Dei head coach after assisting the past few years. “We have great weapons everywhere.”

Among them are 6-foot-6 senior outside hitter Zach Berty, sophomore outside Eli McGhee who was Tesoro Tournament MVP, senior setter Brad Orcutt, junior setter Cole Schobel and senior libero JJ Sowa. The Monarchs are going to miss 6-5 junior opposite hitter Brett Bruder who suffered a high ankle sprain in the Tesoro Tournament and is expected by Nuneviller to be out for at least four weeks.

Berty is excited about the Monarchs’ prospects for the remainder of the season.

“We have this great chemistry that makes everything fun and helps make us better each day,” said Harvard-bound Berty whose sister Natalie was an Orange County, CIF-SS and state girls volleyball player of the year and now is at Stanford. “I know we lost to San Clemente but that just woke us up and reminded us what our job is what we have to do to be the best team we can be.”


The CIF-SS boys volleyball playoffs will have six divisions. Division 1 will be an eight-team bracket with possible play-in matches. The other five divisions will have either 16- or 32-team brackets.

Firsst-round games in all divisions is April 28. If a 32-team division has more than 32 automatic qualifiers wild card-round matches will be played April 26 to reduce the field to 32 teams for the first round.


Newport Harbor, which displayed impressive athleticism all over the court in its win over Corona del Mar last week, is No. 3 in the Divisions 1 and 2 boys volleyball rankings that have Beckman at No. 4, Corona del Mar at No. 5, Servite at No. 9 and Huntington Beach at No. 10.


University’s boys tennis team won the All-American Tournament on Saturday at the Palisades Tennis Club in Newport Beach with a win over The Menlo School of Atherton in the finals. The victory was the 800th of University coach John Kessler’s coaching career, combining his wins as the schools boys and girls tennis coach.


Whittier Christian senior Caitlin Perry is a recipient of the CIF State “Spirit Of Sport” award that according to the CIF State office “recognizes student-athletes who have demonstrated the 16 principles of Pursuing Victory with Honor, are active in school and community service, and exhibit leadership qualities.”

Perry played four varsity soccer at Whittier Christian for four seasons and was a team captain the past two seasons. She also is a member of the California Scholastic Federation, the National Honor Society, the Whittier Christian choir and volunteers in various school and community organizations.


Marc Popovich resigned as San Clemente boys basketball coach, a position he held for 15 seasons. Popovich, 41, resigned to create more time for his family that includes daughters of ages 11 and 9. Popovich, who coached the Tritons to five league championships and to playoff berths the past 11 seasons, will remain at San Clemente as a history teacher.


The Trinity League Vs. The USA Showcase at St. John Bosco in September has Mater Dei playing against Mililani of Hawaii on Sept. 16 and St. John Bosco playing Kahuku of Hawaii on Sept. 17.

Mililani was the No. 3 team in the final Hawaii state rankings in 2021. Kahuku finished as the state’s No. 1 team in ’21.