The Pierce College men's volleyball team came within three points of sweeping heavily favored Orange Coast in the junior college state championships Friday at El Camino, before surrendering three consecutive games to lose.
Afterward, Pierce Coach Ken Stanley wasn't about to blame it on Rio.
Make that Rico from Rio.
Rico Guimaraes, a sophomore outside hitter, might be the Brahmas' most valuable player. He was a foreign-exchange student at Hoover High, graduating in 1987.
"(Guimaraes) has got a good vertical jump and dynamite arm strength," said Orange Coast Coach Bob Wetzel, who watched the rangy, 6-foot-5 Brazilian force-feed the Pirates a team-high 30 kills.
Stanley says Guimaraes is the consummate athlete.
"In the 12 years I've been coaching at Pierce, he's probably in my top five players," Stanley said. "You never have to worry about motivating him. I think that's the true characteristic of a good athlete."
Guimaraes, an All-South Coast Conference selection, is interested in several schools, including Long Beach State, Cal State Northridge, Hawaii and Pepperdine.
In addition, three other Glendale players play for Pierce (18-3), runner-up to Orange Coast in the SCC. Milton Hahn attended Hoover and Mark Grist and Tyler Bates graduated from Glendale.
Bates, the starting setter, was also selected to the all-SCC team. "Bates is far and away the best setter in the conference," Wetzel said.
Championship form: With just three returning players from last year's Southern Section 4-A Division championship badminton team, Pat Rogerson predicted this would be a rebuilding season for Glendale High.
Happily, Rogerson's prognosis was inaccurate. The Dynamiters finished second in the Pacific League with a record of 11-4 and 7-2 in league play.
The final match of the regular season against league-champion Alhambra might have been Glendale's most impressive. The contest lasted five hours, whereas most matches last about 2 1/2 hours. Glendale won, 10-9.
"Right now the team looks in championship form," Rogerson said. "They've really fought tooth and nail the whole way."
Glendale will be well-represented in the first round of the Southern Section individual finals Saturday at Cal State Dominguez Hills.
Twins Angela and Christian Armendariz will compete in the girls' doubles. Last month in Colorado Springs, Colo., the two won their second consecutive national title in girls' doubles for 18 and under. Christian and Jung Lee will play in the mixed doubles division.
Lee and Eric Chu will compete in the boys' doubles.
Occidental bound: Jeff Huerta, an all-Riverside County linebacker from Rubidoux High, recently announced his plans to enroll at Occidental College.
Huerta, who led the Falcons with 107 tackles (58 unassisted) in nine games, was also named to the All-Citrus Belt League team.
Add Occidental: Al Luginbill, head coach at San Diego State, is the scheduled keynote speaker the Occidental football coaches clinic May 20. Other lecturers include assistants from NCAA Division I and II programs such as Navy, Cal, and Cal State Northridge.
The all-day clinic costs $17 and is intended for youth, high school and college coaches.