As has been the trend for nearly a decade, the Burroughs High boys’ volleyball team cleaned up when the All-Pacific League honors were handed out for the 2018 season.
But the decision for the league’s player of the year honor was not an easy one.
Indians seniors Cole Kaitz and Diego Rosal put up big numbers and played important roles in the team’s success.
“I wanted for them to be co-MVPs,” said Burroughs coach Joel Brinton, who had six players earn all-league. “They were both so vital to what we were able to accomplish and I really think they both deserved it.”
But it was Kaitz, a senior opposite, who earned the league’s top honor, as an Indian has been voted Pacific League Player of the Year for nine straight seasons.
Rosal, a senior outside hitter, earned a spot on the first team with teammate Sam Tipton, a junior libero, as well as a pair of Burbank players, senior outside hitter Jonathan Ragheb and junior middle/opposite Rory Rickey.
Earning spots on the second team were Indians senior setter Jose Solano, junior outside hitter Michael Rumfola and sophomore middle Connor Burroughs. Honorable mention went to Burroughs freshman outside hitter Cade McGovern and Burbank senior libero Eddie Curren.
Burbank coach Karl Rojo was named the league’s coach of the year.
“I think me and Diego are pretty close when it comes to skill level,” Kaitz said. “We have been on varsity together the last three years and we have both grown together as players. We have also played club together and we have that close, brotherly bond.
“I’m really honored that I was able to win the award, but I think Diego was also very deserving and he deserved to be up there with me and maybe share the award.”
Kaitz finished the season with 234 kills (3.9 kills per set) to go along with 31 blocks and 12 digs. He also had 27 kills in a league match against Arcadia, which was third all-time for kills in a match for a Burroughs player.
“Cole’s stats could have been a lot higher because he sat out some matches because of injury and illness,” Brinton said. “The kills per set really says something. Having almost four kills a set really says a lot about his consistency.
“We were able to rely on him a great deal and he came through a lot for us.”
Kaitz helped Burroughs (19-9, 12-0 in league) capture its ninth straight Pacific League championship, dropping just two sets in 12 league contests. The Indians increased their league winning streak to 65 matches, a string that dates back to 2013.
Rosal tallied 271 kills, which led the team and was sixth best all-time for Burroughs. In addition, he was tops in aces with 43, had 148 digs, 25 blocks and set a school record with 10 aces in a match.
“Diego is the first player to get two all-tournament selections in the same season for us,” Brinton said. “And we’ve had some very good players who have come through the program over the years. When Cole was out, Diego was the guy we relied on a lot to carry us through.”
Tipton was tops on the team in digs with 275 (third most in a season) and had 15 aces.
“Sam was just awesome this year,” Brinton said. “He raised the volleyball IQ of our team on the court so much. He is a great kid in the classroom and as you know those kinds of kids are great to have out there. He was able to take game plans and transfer them immediately. He was constantly in everybody’s ear letting them know what was going on.”
Rickey led Burbank with 222 kills to go along with 48 digs, 33 blocks and 14 aces.
“When we needed the big points, Rory stepped up for us,” Rojo said. “When we got him involved and when he was up in the air, that opened up opportunities for his teammates. He was a big help in making our offense what it was. … He really improved as the season went along.”
Ragheb finished with 162 kills, 79 digs, eight blocks and seven aces.
“Jonathan was a team leader and he was just selfless for us,” Rojo said. “He injured his thumb in the beginning of the season and he pretty much played though the entire season with that injury, so that says a lot about him. He is a very tough kid who is willing to do anything for the team.”
While Solano was tops on Burroughs in assists with 658 to go along with 131 digs, 18 aces and 12 blocks, Rumfola contributed 181 digs, 124 kills, 26 aces and nine blocks and Burroughs had 93 kills and 16 blocks, while Curren had 237 digs and 27 aces and McGovern had 40 kills and 31 aces.