Loyola of L.A., Luca Curci top 2023 Boys HS All-American teams

Loyola is the VBM national team of the year/photo courtesy of Michael Boehl, Loyola High School of Los Angeles

The Loyola High School of Los Angeles boys volleyball team stepped it up when it counted the most, avenging an earlier playoff loss to win the California Interscholastic Federation State Southern California Regional Division I championship, and in doing so is the 2023 boys national high school team of the year.

Loyola joins Newport Harbor’s Luca Curci (2023 boys high school player of the year) and Glenbard West’s Christine Giunta-Mayer (2023 boys coach of the year) as winners of the trifecta of national postseason awards that have been issued now for more than four decades.

The Loyola case study is a great one. The Cubs, under the direction of veteran coach Michael Boehle, rolled into the CIF Division I Southern Section playoffs with only one loss on the season, a 2-1 setback to Servite out of Anaheim in a tournament in March. The top-seeded Cubs downed Beckman and Edison before losing at home to Corona del Mar (Newport Beach) in four in the semifinal.

But there was still hope in the form of the regional playoffs, akin to the state championship in California.

And the Cubs (29-2 overall) did not disappoint. Loyola ripped through Scripps Ranch out of San Diego in the opener, avenged the section loss to CdM in the semifinals and then defeated Newport Harbor (Newport Beach) to win the regional crown.

“Our team was very upset with how we finished against CdM in the section loss, so we were very motivated to win the state playoffs and show everyone how much better we could play,” Loyola junior outside hitter Sean Kelly said. “We played very freely and came together even stronger in the state playoffs. It was a great way to finish our season and have something to show for our great year.”

Cubs senior middle blocker Spencer Graves (UCLA-bound) added: “Our team was able to succeed in the state tournament because despite a tough loss, we all came together and decided that wasn’t the way we wanted to go out. We knew we had the ability to beat CdM and Newport, we just needed to play our game and that’s what we did in the state tournament.”

Boehle, whose team had won 21 matches in a row before the loss to CdM in the section, said the team’s success this season boiled down to great chemistry.

“These were guys who really enjoyed each other on and off the court,” he said. “Expectations were not what they were the year before. They played free and rode the wave. They were good guys and good friends on and off the court and they played free volleyball. They enjoyed the game and they enjoyed practice and knew when they had to work. The expectations were that they were not supposed to do this. This was a pleasant surprise and one of the most fun teams I have coached in 25 years. To do this on the road, especially at Newport Harbor, was incredible. It was very special.”

Loyola senior right side Lukas Anderson (headed to Loyola-Chicago) echoed Boehle’s observation, noting the teams closeness and familiarity with one another was the difference-maker.

“Most of us had been playing together since we were 13,” he said. “I think what made the season stand out so much was how well we played as a unit. We were very steady and we didn’t really ever get too high or too low. We all trusted each other. It was a fun group of guys to play with.”

Anderson added there was zero troubles with getting motivated after the section loss.

“There was a general consensus around the team that we had come too far this year just to have nothing to show for it. We came together in the state matches with the same intensity with the same mission. Everyone wanted the last game of the season to be a win and we were not going to let one playoff loss define our entire season.”

Boehle said the team followed a familiar road map that has been around Cubs camp for quite a while.

“Every year we use the term building a house together,” he said. “You start with the demo and then do the construction and then you have the finished product. When we got to the final, that’s when you open the door and see what you built. We built a house together and worked hard doing it. From the 15th guy to the first guy, they were all equal in their roles and they did them so well.”

The region title adds to Boehle’s tremendous resume at the school. It was Loyola’s fifth regional title in his 25 years (2009, 2010, 2012 and 2017). His teams are also 272-2 in conference play during that timeframe.

For Curci, a senior outside hitter at Newport Harbor, his final high school season was a memorable one, helping the Sailors (36-2) capture back-to-back CIF-SS Division I titles. In doing so he was also named the CIF-SS Division I co-player of the year and the Orange County Register player of the year.

He finished his run in Newport Beach with 495 kills, while hitting .360 and adding 131 digs, 59 blocks and 4 aces.

“My offense got better,” he said. “Before, I was a tool hitter and now I am more of an offense threat. I got bigger and stronger (gained 10 pounds in the off-season) and went to the gym and worked hard.”

While Curci’s offense improved, his defensive abilities were equally up to snuff.

“Maybe defense is the best part of my game,” he said. “My defense has always been good.”

Curci said being a leader on the team along with teammate Jake Read this season also added to the enjoyment of the season. “It was cool. I had a lot of responsibility,” he said. “It was good that myself and my longtime buddy (Read) did it together. We had a lot of fun.”

Curci, headed to UCLA where his father, Anthony, was part of the 1989 Al Scates-coached national championship team, added individual success this season would not have been possible without his teammates.

“They helped me a lot by not letting me get down on myself,” he said. “If I played bad, they held me accountable for playing bad and told me to figure it out and step it up.”

Harbor coach Andrew Mabry said Curci’s progress and improvement never stopped.

“He continued to improve his game and his leadership,” he said. “He is a gifted player from the front and back row as an attacker and has a wicked vertical jump serve that can spark big momentum-building runs. Luca has always been an outstanding team player and has given credit for his success to his teammates. We are so proud of who he is.”

Giunta-Mayer is the coach of the year for the second time since 2017 after directing the Hilltoppers from Glenbard West (in the western Chicago suburb of Glen Ellyn) to a fifth state championship since 2015 and second in a row.

Giunta-Mayer, who recorded her 500th career win this season and is the founding coach of the program, has been at the helm of back-to-back state crowns. Her 2016 team went 42-0 and set a state record by going 84-0 in sets. The 2017 Hilltoppers team went 41-1 and contributed to another state-record with a 69-match winning streak. Taking away the COVID 2020 year, West has finished third, second, third, first and first since 2018. Her teams have made 10 appearances in the annual eight-team Illinois state finals.

This year’s efforts also earned Giunta-Mayer (530-132 in 17 seasons) the Illinois Volleyball Coaches Association boys high school coach of the year.

Luca Curci


Name Ht. Pos. Year High School
Lukas Anderson 6-2 OH Sr. Loyola (Los Angeles, California)
George Bruening 6-10 RS Sr. Corona del Mar (Newport Beach, California)
Luca Curci 6-3 OH Sr. Newport Harbor (Newport Beach, California)
Jack Ebertin 6-4 OH Sr. St. Francis (Mountain View, California)
Jakobi Lange 6-4 OH Sr. Hinsdale (Illinois) Central
Charlie Ledford 6-1 OH-Lib. Sr. Cathedral Catholic (San Diego, California)

Will McElveen/Kevin McElveen photo

William McElveen 6-5 S Sr.Olympia (Orlando, Florida)
Parker Moorhead 6-4 OH Sr. Glenbard West (Glen Ellyn, Illinois)
Sterling Foley 6-4 OH Jr. Corona del Mar (Newport Beach, California)
Sean Kelly 6-7 OH Jr. Loyola (Los Angeles, California)
Jake Read 6-4 OH Sr. Newport Harbor (Newport Beach, California)
Kainoa Wade 6-8 OH Soph. Kamehameha Kapalama (Honolulu, Hawai’i)


Ignacio Brito 6-4 OH Sr. Columbus (Miami, Florida)
Jaron Brown 6-2 OH Sr. Highland (Gilbert, Arizona)
Riggs Guy 6-3 RS Jr. Newport Harbor (Newport Beach, California)
Spencer Graves 6-5 MB Sr. Loyola (Los Angeles, California)
Sam Levinson 6-2 OH Sr. Lyons Township (LaGrange, Illinois)
Tyler McBurney 6-3 OH Sr. Perry (Gilbert, Arizona)
Blake Taschner 6-2 S-RS Sr. Scripps Ranch (San Diego, California)
Christian Teresi 6-2 S-RS Soph. Marist (Chicago, Illinois)
Kai Rodriguez 6-4 OH Sr. Moanalua (Honolulu, Hawai’i)
Tread Rosenthal 6-8 S-RS Jr. Mira Costa (Manhattan Beach, California)
Cole Schobel 6-0 S Sr. Mater Dei (Santa Ana, California)
Grant Steuerwald 5-7 Libero Sr. Loyola (Los Angeles, California)

Honorable Mention

Shane Aitken, Libero, Sr., St. Margaret’s Episcopal (San Juan Capistrano, California); Tyler Alexander, MB, Sr., James River (Midlothian, Virginia); Tyler Alden, OH, Jr., Valley Christian (San Jose, California); Walter Birnbaum, OH, Sr., La Jolla (California); Kahale Clini, OH, Jr., Punahou (Honolulu, Hawai’i); Nate Clinton, OH, Sr., Amador Valley (Pleasanton, California); Vinny Coello, OH, Jr., Catholic Memorial (Waukesha, Wisconsin); Christian Connell, Jr., OH, Scripps Ranch (San Diego, California); Gunner Cook, Libero, Sr., Perry (Gilbert, Arizona);
Juanmarco Diaz, OH, Jr., Southwest (Miami, Florida); Owen Douphner, OH, Sr., Hart (Newhall, California); Ryan Enos, MB, Jr., Cathedral Catholic (San Diego, California); Rob Evangelista, OH, Sr., McQuaid Jesuit (Rochester, New York); Tommy Forese IV, OH, Sr., Casteel (Queen Creek, Arizona); Conner Foxwell, MB, Sr., Central Dauphin (Harrisburg, Pennsylvania); Lincoln Geist, Libero-DS, Jr., Downers Grove (Illinois) North; Jack Graves, OH, Sr., Beckman (Irvine, California); Ryan Graves, S-RS, Sr., Beckman (Irvine, California); Cole Hartke, OH, Sr., Barrington (Illinois);
Sean Harvey, OH, Sr., South Elgin (Illinois); Robert Henao, S-RS, Sr., Belen Jesuit (Miami, Florida); Ben Heise, RS, Sr., Middleton (Wisconsin); Trevor Herget, OH-RS, Sr. Darien (Connecticut) ; Noah Huang, MB, Sr., Beckman (Irvine, California);
Riley Irmen, Libero, Sr., Glen Allen (Virginia); Finn Kearney, RS-OH, Jr., O’Connor (Phoenix, Arizona); Nolan Kelly, S, Sr., El Segundo (California); Ian Kinney, RS-MB, Sr., Punahou (Honolulu, Hawai’i); Carson Kneisl, OH, Sr., Bear Creek (Lakewood, Colorado); Blake Krapf, OH, Jr., Old Bridge (Matawan, New Jersey); Eddie Kwarciak, OH, Sr., Grand Island (New York); Victor Loiola, OH, Sr., Mira Costa (Manhattan Beach, Florida); Casey Lyons, MB, Sr., Iolani School (Honolulu, Hawai’i);
David Mansilla, OH, Sr., Redondo Union (Redondo Beach, California); Colin Marks, S, Sr., Jesuit (Carmichael, California); Matt Marusza, S, Sr., Canisius (Buffalo, New York); Brendan McCarthy, MB, Sr., Brother Rice (Chicago, Illinois); Gabe Metcalf, S, Sr., La Canada (Flintridge, California); Marcelo Morales, MB, Sr., Belen Jesuit (Miami, Florida); Brendenn O’Neil, OH, Sr., Clovis (California); Liam O’Neill, MB, Sr., Glenbard West (Glen Ellyn, Illinois); Dante Palombo, MB, Jr., Shaler Area (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania); Will Patterson, MB, Sr., Moeller (Cincinnati, Ohio); Jake Pazanti, S, Jr., Huntington Beach (California); Logan Peterson, OH, Jr., Shaler Area (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania); Liam Phinizy, OH-MB, Sr., Huntington Beach (California);
Caleb Sapp, RS, Jr., Claremont (California); Chance Shampine, RS, Sr., Glenbrook South (Glenview, Illinois); Will Sierer, S. Sr., Lower Dauphin (Hummelstown, Pennsylvania); Matt Sion, OH, Sr., Orchard Park (New York); Alex Smith, MB, Sr., Marist (Chicago, Illinois); Thomas Smith, S, Sr., Cumberland Valley (Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania); Mason Stokes, OH, Sr., Clovis (California) East; Zach Stoew, MB-OH, Sr., West Jessamine (Nicholasville, Kentucky); Jake Strnisa, OH, Jr., Hopewell (Aliquippa, Pennsylvania); Connor Studer, OH, Sr., Lincoln-Way West (New Lenox, Illinois); Logan Taylor, S, Sr., Sanger (California); Justin Todd, OH, Sr., Moanalua (Honolulu, Hawai’i); Mark Tomlinson, S, Sr., Perry (Gilbert, Arizona); Parker Tomlinson, MB, Jr., Carlsbad (California);
Jameson Vaccaro, OH-S, Sr. The Bishop’s School (La Jolla, California) ; Tyler Walenga, OH, Sr., Lincoln-Way East (Frankfort, Illinois); Christian Walsh, S, Sr., Maggie Walker Governor’s (Richmond, Virginia); Owen Walsh, Sr., MB-OH, Sycamore (Cincinnati, Ohio); Caden Whiteside, OH-RS, Jr., Olentangy Liberty (Powell, Ohio); Tristan Whitfield, MB, Sr., Cape Henry (Virginia Beach, Virginia); Gavin Wilczewski, OH, Sr., East Aurora (New York); Hayden Winegar, S, Sr., Highland (Gilbert, Arizona); Zach Yewchuk, OH, Sr., Moanalua (Honolulu, Hawai’i); Thiago Zamprogno, MB, Sr., Cardinal Gibbons (Ft. Lauderdale, Florida); Peter Zurawski, S, Sr., Oak Park (Illinois)-River Forest

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