Brande: Young guns fire away

The finals of the Coastal Athletic League Boys' Volleyball Tournament were held last week at Harbor Day School's Blass Gymnasium. This is the first event of the year for competition in the Intermediate schools of Newport-Mesa with some schools from Huntington Beach.

For many boys, this is the first time that they have represented their school and have had to tryout to make these teams (most schools have 60-70 boys tryout for 15 positions). Each season, under the direction of tournament director Mike Coleman, the teams are seeded into the tournament based on their league record.

Mike always provides a first class event as does host, Harbor Day School.

In both the seventh- and eighth-grade tournaments, Ensign Intermediate with an undefeated league record, was seeded No. 1 with Corona del Mar at No. 2. Sowers (Huntington Beach) and Harbor Day were No. 3 and No. 4.

The semifinal matches featured Ensign-Harbor Day and CdM-Sowers in the seventh-grade bracket with Ensign pulling out a three-game victory (the only game they lost all season) and Sowers upsetting CdM.

Standouts included team leader George Knapp, setter Drake Mossman and John King for Harbor Day, which was coached by Pam Coleman and Kim Coleman Story. Coach Joe Sloate's Sea Kings were led by the play of Luke Chelf, Jack Stone and Bryce Motal. Jake Pearson, Max Pearson and Augie Miller assisted Coach Sloate.

Ensign won the seventh-grade final in two games, 25-15 and 25-18. The setting and hitting of Sam Barela as well as the attacking from Dayne Chalmers led Coach Ashley Curtis' Sea Bees.

The eighth-grade semifinals showcased quite a jump in the level of volleyball. It is always amazing to see how much these boys mature between seventh and eighth grade. Ensign won the Ensign-Harbor Day match, 25-19 and 25-17. Harbor Day's Coach Mary Mix relied on the play of Evan Park, Rory Sever and Aidan Steinke throughout the season.

The other semifinal produced a two-game sweep by Corona del Mar over Dwyer, 25-11 and 25-17. This setup a long-anticipated final between CdM and Ensign.

The CdM team had obviously prepared well for this rematch of last year's seventh-grade final. In volleyball, many refer to the skills of serving, passing and digging as "the vitamins," which should be taken every day.

The Corona team excelled with its vitamins that allowed the Sea Kings to reverse an earlier season decision and to win the championship by scores of 25-20 and 25-17. CdM was coached by Steve Vrebalovich and assisted by Dr. Steve Wynn. CdM featured the hitting and blocking of Tae Le, Tyler Flood, Kevin Kobrine and Patrick Wynn as well as the setting of Patrick Paragas and Paul Vrebalovich.

With Coaches Kari Rush and Sherri Fenn trying everything to get Ensign on track, the momentum was all CdM. Ensign was led by the hitting and blocking of Cole Pender, Ethan Talley and Willy Axton with Jantzen Fenn providing the setting.

It will be fun to watch these boys as they move into high school. Thursday's match was a Mini Battle of the Bay.

We are so fortunate to have the coaches that we have in our schools. Mary Mix and Kari Rush were starters on the Newport Harbor 1979 CIF championship team. Sherri Fenn was an All-American player in college and a member of our USA National team. Steve Vrebalovich and Steve Wynn are still playing in national age-group volleyball tournaments. Kim Coleman Story was a setter on the Corona del Mar national championship teams in 1993 and 1994 and set for UCLA.

Special thanks to Mike Coleman and Harbor Day School for continuing this outstanding event. It is a tournament that these boys remember for the rest of their lives.

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