Duhoux's versatility leads the way for Sailors

Steven Duhoux grimaced in pain on the court last week. He tried to ignore it but it was just too much to deal with, so he handled it the best way he could.

Each time the ball was on the other side of the net he tried to shake off the pain. The pain was still there and it wasn't going away.

The left thumb Duhoux jammed while blocking a shot hurt badly. The good news was his block put his boys' volleyball team, Newport Harbor High, two points away from taking a 2-0 sets lead at Edison.

When Duhoux reached the bench, his coach, Steve Astor, asked him how he felt and then encouraged him.

"You just got to do what you got to do and fight through it," Duhoux said Astor told him.

What else could Duhoux do? He was responsible for setting the team's offense. He couldn't sit out because the starting setter, Scott Russell, was out with a toe injury.

Duhoux toughed it out and then things got tight. The Sailors lost the next two sets, and Edison forced a decisive fifth set. Duhoux and his team had been in this same position three days before against the same team.

While the venue was different, what wasn't was Newport Harbor's mindset. The Sailors pride themselves in being one of top conditioned teams in Orange County.

Duhoux is also one of those players who gets on his teammates when they're not working hard. He had to go after it, not wanting to stick out like a sore thumb because of his thumb.

Duhoux distributed the ball and the Sailors edged Edison for the second time in Sunset League play. He recorded 40 assists, five kills and three blocks, showing his versatility.

In his senior year, the Sailors are asking him to do a lot.

He gave up his favorite position before the season to play opposite. He isn't used to hammering shots, because he sets them up on his club team, the HBC Volleyball Club. He was looking forward to doing the same thing full time in his final season with his high school team.

When Astor came to Duhoux before the season, he told him he wasn't sure where he would start. He just told him it probably wasn't going to be at setter.

"He did a good job of understanding the team aspect of it. He's really taken hold of that. He's been a great leader for us," Astor said. "As you can see, he can do a lot of different things for us, which is [great]. We don't have tremendous depth one through 15 on our team this year, but eight or nine guys can play different positions [and that] gives us depth, and he's one of those main guys."

Wherever Duhoux plays, it doesn't matter to him. He said he just wants to help the team win and he has done that so far.

Newport Harbor, ranked No. 10 in the CIF Southern Section Division 1, began league with three wins, before losing in three sets at defending league champion Huntington Beach on Thursday. Duhoux set in that match, and Astor said he would continue to do so, even though Russell has returned from his injury.

The 6-foot-3 Duhoux has shown he can hit a heavy ball, too. During the Orange County Championships, he led the Sailors with 22 kills in their win against Orange Lutheran and they capped the two-day tournament on March 16 with a ninth-place finish.

The kill total was a career high for Duhoux.

"I was able to get that many kills because Kevin [Rakestraw] sat out against Orange Lutheran," Duhoux said of the 7-footer, who is bound for Stanford. "We wanted to save him for the start of league."

League has begun and Duhoux is now setting up players like Rakestraw. He said the thumb feels better now. No longer is he grimacing. How can he? He's doing what he loves — passing the ball.

david.carrillo@latimes.com

Twitter: @DCPenaloza

Steven Duhoux

Born: Jan. 19, 1995

Hometown: Newport Beach

Height: 6 feet 3

Weight: 195 pounds

Sport: Boys' volleyball

Year: Senior

Coach: Steve Astor

Favorite food: Sushi

Favorite movie: "The Social Network"

Favorite athletic moment: "Qualifying for Junior Olympics last year with the HBC Volleyball Club in Texas."

Week in review: Duhoux averaged 44 assists in the Sailors' two Sunset League wins against Edison.

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