Mira Costa High School has perhaps the most storied history of any high school volleyball program in the country. The historic Fisher Gym at Mira Costa is testimony to this legacy, its walls covered with banners for CIF Championships, State Championships and an unprecedented four National Championships. Drawing from the volleyball-crazy Hermosa and Manhattan Beach area, the depth of talent and the legacy of Mira Costa volleyball is unlike any other high school. Former players have gone on to win NCAA Championships, compete professionally indoors and on the beach, and win Olympic medals.
Mira Costa fielded its first varsity girls volleyball team in the early 1970s. Many pioneers of the sport played on these early teams, including Nina Mathies, who won two National Championships at UCLA and is currently the head coach at Pepperdine University as well as great players such as Jan Saunders who was a three-time All-American at the University of Pacific.
A turning point in the Mira Costa progam came in 1982 with the closing of nearby Aviation High School and its merger with Mira Costa. Not only did Mira Costa benefit from the players who lived in the Aviation district, but along with those players came a new coach, DaeLea Aldrich. The first year after the merger, Mira Costa, led by Aldrich, won the CIF Championship and the school's first State Championship. That team included such great players as Lee and Lisa Hoven, who went on to star at Pepperdine, Barbra Fontana, who led Stanford to the Final Four, and Debbi Black, who won a National Championship at the University of Hawaii.
Three years later on a 1985 team led by future Olympian Holly McPeak, Lyndsey Hahn, and current Costa Head Coach Lisa Arce, Mira Costa again won the CIF and State Championship as well as its first National Championship. Mira Costa again captured CIF, State and National Championships in 1989 on a team that went undefeated and included future collegiate stars Piper Hahn, Heidi Eick, Kristal Attwood, and others. Mira Costa battled for several CIF Championships in the 1990s, led by such players as Rochelle Esparza, Kristin Sigal, and the Lawson sisters (Nikki and Mandi).
The first decade of the New Millenium proved to be a great one for the Mustangs. The Mustangs captured CIF Championships in 2000 and 2003 led by the Donahue sisters (Brooke in 2000 and Sydney in 2003). An infusion of great players followed, including Taylor Carico, Lauren Bledsoe, Alix Klineman, Kendall Bateman, Lane Carico, and Falyn Fonoimoana. The Mustangs went on an unprecedented tear, winning State Championships in 2004 and 2005, and then capturing both State and National Championships in 2006 and 2007. The 2007 team, led by first-year head coach Lisa Arce-Zimmerman, won an unprecedented 37 matches without a single loss.
The impact Mira Costa players have had at the collegiate level is unmatched. Over eighty graduates have gone on to compete in college. (See a list of Mira Costa collegiate players here). Costa graduates have played on over 10 collegiate National Championship teams and Mira Costa has produced numerous All-Americans throughout the years. In 2010, three Mira Costa graduates were named college All-Americans, certainly a first for any one high school.
This history of Mira Costa graduates on the beach is as equally impressive as the success indoors. Foremost among the Mira Costa beach stars is Holly McPeak who held the record for the most professional victories at 50 until recently surpassed by Misty May and Kerri Walsh. McPeak represented the United States in three Olympics and won the bronze medal in 2004. Other great Costa beach players include Nina Mathies (formerly Grouwinkle) who was the dominant player of her era racking up an impressive 44 tournament victories between 1972 and 1991; Barbra Fontana who represented the United States in the first Beach Volleyball Olympic Competition in 1996; and the Mustang’s current head coach Lisa Acre-Zimmerman, who has an impressive 20 professional tournament victories to her name. Other Mustang alumnae who have competed professionally on the beach include Wendy Fletcher, Ann Cunningham, and Sandy Malpee.