High School Volleyball: Sage star keys win for South

NEWPORT BEACH — Kevin Rakestraw, a 7-foot middle blocker, was by far the tallest player on the court and Kent Kawaguchi, a 6-foot setter, the shortest on Friday.

Height didn't determine whose team won the volleyball match, though.

Kawaguchi's side prevailed in the Dave Mohs Memorial Orange County High School All-Star boys' contest for seniors at Newport Harbor High.

The court has been Rakestraw's home for four years, but it was Kawaguchi, from Sage Hill School, who helped the South edge the North, 25-13, 23-25, 15-13.

"It was fun. My entire Balboa Bay [Volleyball Club] team was here," said Kawaguchi, pointing at the biggest member, Rakestraw.

"They're a bunch of good athletes."

Kawaguchi and Rakestraw were among four boys from the Newport-Mesa area schools to participate. Kawaguchi and CdM libero Erik Ctvrtlik topped Rakestraw and Newport Harbor setter Steven Duhoux.

The girls' All-Star match featured five locals, all on the North team. The quintet of CdM's Kelsey Humphreys and Grace Kennedy, Newport Harbor's Torey Thompson and Hunter Jennings, and Sage Hill's Maggie Danner were defeated by the South, 25-22, 12-25, 15-8.

Both matches were decided in the third set. While the event marked the final high school match of their careers, Rakestraw said those involved didn't take it too seriously, except for one boy.

"Erik. He's focused every game," Rakestraw said with a smile.

"It may not look like it," Kawaguchi said while looking at a shirtless Ctvrtlik after the match.

The teams posed for a photo. There was a lot of talent. Rakestraw is bound for Stanford, Kawaguchi for USC, Ctvrtlik for Vanderbilt and Duhoux is undecided.

Humphreys, a setter, and Kennedy, an outside hitter, are heading to Stanford, Thompson, a setter, to Chico State, Jennings, a libero, to the University of San Diego, and Danner, an outside hitter, to Amherst.

Rakestraw not only lost the match on Friday, but his high school coach the last two years. Steve Astor stepped down as the Newport Harbor coach to accept the CdM girls' job.

"I just found out like an hour ago," Rakestraw said. "I'm happy for him. I think he did a good job. He was a good coach."

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