Pasadena-area boys' volleyball season begins anew
Volleyball: Seven local teams hope newcomers will replace graduated talent.
South Pasadena High boys' volleyball Coach Ben Diaz expects the Tigers to be even better and compete for a CIF title in 2013. (Cheryl A. Guerrero/Staff Photographer / February 23, 2013)
Yet, the seven local squads who waved goodbye to playmakers and leaders are also welcoming solid returners and a crop of newcomers ready to make an impact.
At South Pasadena, expectations are on high even though the Tigers graduated a few key players, including All-CIF Southern Section Division III first-teamer Thomas Adamson, an outside hitter who averaged 3.2 kills and 2.3 digs per game in garnering an All-Area second-team selection.
The good news for Tigers second-year Coach Ben Diaz is that Thomas’ brother, senior Robert Adamson, is back after earning an All-Area first-team selection by averaging 3.3 kills and 1.5 digs per game.
“I really think we have the potential to win it all,” Diaz said. “I have a very good squad, maybe even better than last year’s squad.”
Last season, the Tigers won the Rio Hondo League championship and advanced to the quarterfinals of the Division III playoffs, both firsts for the program since 2008.
Diaz has six returners back, including seniors in league first-team middle blocker Jason Qui, league second-team libero Nathan Lee and honorable mention setter David Barker.
Even with the returners, there is buzz around the freshmen brother duo Max and Greg Luck, whom both played for Diaz’s San Gabriel Elite Club that participated in the USA Volleyball Boys’ National Championships last summer.
“They’re going to be my pin hitters, but they can do more,” Diaz said. “It’s going to be fun to see what’s going to happen.”
Sophomore newcomer Richard Yu also figures to be a part of South Pasadena’s rotation.
Similar to South Pasadena, the La Salle boys’ volleyball team is also looking for big results in the second season under coach Tiare Tuitama.
Last season, La Salle finished 16-12 in the competitive Del Rey League, in which all three postseason participants at least reached the second round, while league champion Cathedral ended up winning the Division IV crown.
The Lancers were literally a couple of points from a quarterfinal rematch with Cathedral before losing 19-25, 21-25, 25-18, 25-15, 16-14 to visiting Windward in the second round of the Division IV playoffs.
Perhaps the biggest catalyst from last year’s team, setter Peter Nuguid, is gone after averaging 37 assists per match in earning a Del Rey League first-team and All-Area second-team selection.
“I’ve been coaching boys for nine years and, honestly, Peter is one of the best setters I’ve ever coached,” Tuitama said. “He had a knack for knowing the flow of the game and we’re trying to work on that with our new setters.”
Tuitama has two aspirants for the vacant position in senior Kelby Lanzoratta and sophomore Jake Bragg.
The development of either or both players will be paramount to a Lancers’ attack that welcomes a big addition in Village Christian transfer Will Pyburn.
The 6-foot-4 left-handed sophomore, who will likely by the linchpin in Tuitama’s 6-2 formation, played football in the fall for the Crusaders before transferring in January to La Salle.
“He’s a big presence and knows how to play front and back row,” Tuitama said. “He brings a huge block on the right side and he’s looking forward to stuffing a lot of teams.”