The NCAA men's volleyball championship has a definite Newport-Mesa feel with no fewer than a dozen players dotting the rosters of the four participants, who open play in Thursday's semifinals at Penn State.
The most prominent locals are the UC Santa Barbara starting middle blocker duo of Scott Slaughter and Dylan Davis, both Corona del Mar High products.
Slaughter, a 6-foot-7 senior, led the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation with a .505 regular-season hitting percentage en route to second-team all-conference recognition. He had 228 kills and a team-high 101 total blocks during the regular season.
Davis, a 6-9 sophomore, helped the Gauchos (17-14), upset top-ranked USC in the MPSF Tournament final Saturday. Davis enters with 174 kills, a .478 hitting percentage and 93 total blocks.
UCSB also knocked off BYU, ranked No. 2 nationally, in the MPSF quarterfinals in Provo, Utah.
UCSB, which also includes CdM High products and reserve outside hitters Blaine and Weston Nielsen, will take on USC (23-3), which lists five local products on its roster, in one semifinal. Blaine Nielsen has played 18 sets, starting three matches, and has totaled 26 kills.
Jeff Carlson, a sophomore backup setter out of CdM High, posted 50 assists while playing in 18 sets this season for the Trojans.
Andrew Pizula, who played at Orange Coast College, is a junior backup libero who had nine digs this season for USC.
Tucker Peleuses, a 6-4 opposite from Newport Harbor High, had 11 kills this season for the Trojans, whose roster includes CdM High product Joey Booth, a 6-5 freshman outside hitter, and J.B. Green, a freshman libero out of Newport Harbor.
Connor Curry, a 6-0 freshman libero who has not played this season, is at Penn State (26-6), which will battle Ohio State (24-6) in the other semifinal.
Ohio State's roster includes OCC product Mike Stewart, a 6-5 middle blocker who started three matches and collected 36 kills and 12 block assists in 18 sets thus far.
Kyle Lawrence, a sophomore setter out of Newport Harbor High, had 30 assists and two digs in four sets this season for the Buckeyes.
— From staff reports
Davis signs with UCI
Will Davis, a 6-9 post player from Sacramento, has signed a national letter of intent with the UC Irvine men's basketball program, Coach Russell Turner said.
Davis chose UCI over UC Santa Barbara, Air Force, University of San Francisco, Penn, Delaware and UNC Greensboro as Turner and his staff landed another top recruit from Northern California, joining former San Ramon Valley High standout Chris McNealy, who played in 31 games as a freshman for the 'Eaters this past season.
Davis attended New Hampton (N.H.) Prep this year after being ranked the 16th player in the class of 2010 out of Sacramento High School, according to NorCalPreps.com.
He averaged over eight rebounds as a senior at Sacramento High, grabbing double-digit boards in 13 games.
Davis scored in double figures in 15 games, posting highs of 22 points in a win over Vista del Lago and 16 boards against Clovis West.
He recorded 19 points and 12 rebounds against Oakland, and 13 points and 11 boards against Compton as Sacramento High was 25-8 overall and 10-0 in the Metro League during his senior season. He had 10 double-doubles for the Dragons in 2009-10, including three of the season's final five games.
"Will Davis is a great addition to the UCI Basketball family," Turner said. "As a player, he has an exciting combination of athleticism and size, and I really look forward to working with him.
"In addition, Will brings exceptional character and academic ability to our team, and I am excited that he has chosen to play his college ball in Irvine."
— From staff reports