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Marina boys’ volleyball captures first CIF championship

Marina's Daniel Purtell, who had 20 kills, smashes the ball against Cerritos Valley Christian on Saturday.
Daniel Purtell, swinging, had a match-high 20 kills for Marina, which defeated Cerritos Valley Christian in straight sets for the CIF Southern Section Division 4 boys’ volleyball title on Saturday.
(Photo by Spencer Grant)

Marina High School boys’ volleyball coach Ryan Parker dared to dream big.

When he took over the program this season after previously serving as an assistant, Parker indicated to his team that the goal should extend well beyond winning a league game.

The Vikings did not settle, and they now find themselves at the top of the mountain.

Senior outside hitter Daniel Purtell had a match-high 20 kills, and top-seeded Marina defeated Cerritos Valley Christian 28-26, 25-22, 25-23 for the CIF Southern Section Division 4 volleyball championship at home on Saturday night.

“This is as big of a deal as I’ve ever had coaching,” Parker said. “In five years of coaching, I’ve coached guys that have gone on to Division 1, been in junior national finals — this is everything.

Marina's Aidan Patterson goes up for a kill during Saturday's match.
Marina’s Aidan Patterson goes up for a kill during Saturday’s match.
(Photo by Spencer Grant)

“This is the top of my coaching career right here. This is the best moment I’ve had, and hopefully more to come, but this has just been the storybook ending for this program, for these seniors and for this season.”

Parker, 23, looked as though he could have been on the court for the Vikings in the final. The smile could not be wiped off his face after the transformational win which brought the program its first section title.

“Everybody wanted to play us on their senior night, and I don’t think that’s going to happen any time soon,” Parker added.

Marina (10-5) led throughout the opening set, but a pair of erratic attacks had Marina on the brink of disaster in Game 1. Valley Christian (16-1) served for the set twice before the Vikings made good on their second opportunity.

Marina's Joseph Nunez lunges for the ball.
Marina’s Joseph Nunez lunges for the ball.
(Photo by Spencer Grant)

“I wasn’t playing as well, and I heard a buddy … in the stands say, ‘Daniel, you’re better than that,’ so I was just thinking the whole time, ‘I’m better than this, I’m better than this,’” Purtell said.

“Always try to jump a little higher, swing a little harder. Tips weren’t working out for me, so you just got to swing.”

The ball was coming in hot off the right hand of senior outside hitter Aidan Patterson. He had half of his eight kills in the second set, including one that clinched Game 2.

Dyllan Nguyen had 31 assists and four service aces for Marina. Jaxen Phillips-Hill added four kills and a block. Michael Torrez had a solo block, and Christopher Whitener had two block assists for the Vikings.

Nguyen, a freshman, stepped into the role of setter upon his arrival from Fountain Valley. The addition allowed Purtell, who had been a setter, to become a key part of the offense for Marina.

Marina coach Ryan Parker talks to his team.
Marina coach Ryan Parker talks to his team.
(Photo by Spencer Grant)

“I’m glad he switched positions because he’s meant for this role,” Nguyen said of Purtell’s willingness to become an outside hitter.

Junior outside hitter Cole Oliver had a team-high 17 kills to go with three aces and two blocks for Valley Christian. Junior outside hitter Micah Sybesma added 11 kills, and senior setter Bryce Jones contributed 25 assists and two blocks.

Marina had not played a match for more than two weeks when the playoffs began due to a positive COVID-19 test within the program.

With the uncertainty that there would be a season to begin with, followed by the midseason interruption, the Vikings overcame adversity to rewrite the record book.

“It feels so good,” said Vikings junior libero Joseph Nunez, who had 19 digs. “This was our goal in the beginning. This was what we wanted to do, and we knew we could do it. It just feels good to finally get it done.”

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