Faced with choosing skateboarding or volleyball as his favorite pastime, Brad Griebenow, a Mira Costa senior with shoulder-length hair and a passion for tie-dye shirts, would choose skateboarding.
Griebenow, though, has hung up his wheels long enough to help the Mira Costa High volleyball team to a 7-0 record.
Mira Costa will open Ocean League play Tuesday against Culver City in search of its 12th league title in 14 seasons.
"Brad is a throwback to the 1960s," Mira Costa Coach Mike Cook said. "He's the kind of guy who likes to go camping. He wears shirts and pants with weird designs and he looks like a flower child. He's someone you normally associate with a laid-back individual, but he's something else when he's playing."
Griebenow, a 6-foot-4 senior middle blocker had nine kills and six blocks in a 15-9, 15-17, 15-5, 15-10 victory over Santa Monica in the Mustangs' final nonleague match Thursday.
He served five consecutive points in the fourth game to help the Mustangs overcome a 5-2 deficit and secure the victory.
But Griebenow, whose father Bill was a member of the 1964 U.S. Olympic volleyball team, concedes his thoughts rarely wander far from skateboarding.
"I still try to sneak in a session now and then," Griebenow said. "Nothing too intense. . . . just for transportation. I don't try to hot dog as much."
A skateboarding mishap in November had a lot to do with his conservative approach. He suffered torn ligaments in his ankle while "messing around with friends."
Griebenow caught his left ankle beneath his board while trying to jump a flight of stairs.
"My whole body took a roll," he said. "I felt a pop and at first I thought it was just a sprain. Then I got in my car and it swelled up so much my foot was locked in an L position."
The swelling was so great that doctors were forced to place his ankle in a brace instead of a cast for the first week until the inflammation subsided.
"A break would have healed faster," Griebenow said. "A bone is going to come back to 100%, a ligament is only going to be 90% for the rest of my life."
Griebenow was in two casts over the next four months before beginning rehabilitation three weeks before Mira Costa's first match.
Although Griebenow had not played volleyball in nearly nine months, he was able to break into the starting lineup. That was no easy feat considering the Mustangs returned four starters from a 16-5 team that reached the Southern Section 4-A Division semifinals.
"He still hasn't reached the form he had last year," Cook said. "I just hoped he would be healthy. He's still coming around."
Cook believes the addition of Griebenow could make Mira Costa a candidate to reach its fifth Southern Section title match since 1984.
Matt Walker, 6-2 senior outside hitter, is averaging 15 kills and has made 97 of 100 serves, and Sean Shoptaw, a 6-1 junior left-handed outside hitter, is averaging 13 kills and has served 78 points in seven matches.
Chris Walmer, a 6-6 senior middle blocker, is a returning All-Southern Section selection and Zane Smythe, a 6-2 senior setter, is back for a third season.
Greg Snyder, a 5-10 junior outside hitter playing his first season at the varsity level, completes the starting lineup.
The Mustangs, ranked second in a preseason Division I poll behind Capistrano Valley, have lost only two games.
Mira Costa opened the season with a victory over Newport Harbor, ranked fifth in Division I, and have swept third-ranked Loyola and eight-time City champion Palisades.
A memorable first: A wet field spoiled the West Torrance baseball team's debut at El Segundo Recreation Park Friday night. The Pioneer League game against El Segundo was the first of five night home games to be played at the park in an attempt to attract larger crowds.
Although the game was originally rescheduled for Monday night at Recreation Park, school officials decided to play it Friday afternoon at West.
El Segundo held off a seventh-inning West rally to win, 6-4, in the first meeting between the teams since El Segundo moved to the Pioneer League.
The uncertainty of the game's time and location did little to help West starter Hauss Hancock, who played at El Segundo last season before transferring to West last fall.
Hancock (3-1) walked nine batters batters and gave up three runs in 1 1/3 innings.
"I was all geared up for a night game," said Hancock, a 6-4 senior right-hander who pitched a no-hitter in West's season opener against Cerritos. "I was nervous. I had too much Adrenalin and was working too fast."
Hancock gave up five walks and two runs in the first inning. He walked four batters in a row before leaving the game in the second.
"(Transferring) was something he felt he had to do," El Segundo second baseman Jim Zambarelli said. " We're really good friends and we still talk to him. But between us and him being a little nervous, I guess he didn't have it today."
Junior left-hander David Reed (3-1) went the distance to earn the victory, striking out 10 and giving up five hits for El Segundo (7-3).
West, the No. 1 team in The Times' South Bay preseason rankings, is 5-3.
Hancock visited several El Segundo players before and after the game, but it won't be too long before he runs into catcher Ryan McClosky again.
McClosky's sister Sara, a sophomore at El Segundo, is Hancock's girlfriend.
"He's pretty much over at my house all the time so we have a little rivalry going at home anyway," said McClosky, a junior who had two hits, a stolen base and drove in a run. "I guess we have bragging rights for now."
Williamson watch: South Torrance's dream season came to an end more than two weeks ago in a loss to Morningside in the Southern California Regional Division III basketball final, but things have not slowed for South guard Jimmy Williamson.
Williamson attracted marginal interest from colleges during the regular season, but the 5-10 senior has had all he could handle after leading South (28-4) to its first Southern Section title game.
USC, Texas Christian, Boise State and Miami have contacted Williamson since the regional final. He went on a recruiting trip to Fresno State last week and another one to Loyola Marymount on Friday.
"It's been a little hectic with all of them calling," Williamson said. "It's cool, but it's a little bit overwhelming."
Williamson said he hopes to make a decision within the next two weeks.
He spent Friday night at a South Torrance dance with Nicole Odom--a date who could sympathize with his predicament.
Odom, an All-Southern Section volleyball, soccer and softball player at South Torrance, was recruited to play softball by UCLA, Washington and Texas A&M; before signing a letter of intent to play for the Bruins, the defending NCAA champion, in November.
"It's just nice to hang out with high school friends again at a great dance with a great date and an All-American softball player," Williamson said. "I've been missing a lot of school because of the trips and I have a lot of schoolwork to catch up on this weekend."
A new season: Less than halfway into the season, the San Pedro baseball team (3-5) has lost more games than last season's 22-4 team which won the City 4-A Division title.
The Pirates opened the season with a 1-4 start in the Westside tournament, suffering one-run losses to Inglewood, Santa Monica and Canyon of Canyon Country.
"Nobody is holding back, they're throwing their best against us, but we enjoy the challenge," San Pedro Coach Jerry Lovarov said.
That has not seemed to effect Pirates' batting.
First baseman Danny O'Neil, the most valuable player in last year's championship, is one of three players batting above. 400, along with senior Rob Lukin and junior Tim Harper.
"We're hitting pretty well," Lovarov said. "But last year's team just didn't make the same mistakes that we were making. We'll improve as the season goes along."
The Pirates appeared to be back on track after opening Southern Pacific Conference play with 11-1 and 11-2 victories over Washington before a 2-0 loss to Crenshaw (6-1, 2-1), last season's 3-A runner-up, on Tuesday.
Larry Cannon (2-2) gave up only three hits and struck out six on Tuesday, but the Pirates fell victim to a no-hit performance from Crenshaw's Mark Jones.
"They were hitting the ball all over," Crenshaw Coach Major Dennis said. "They had some real deep fly balls that were almost out, but we played great defense.