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Tufuga picks Stanford

Costa Mesa High senior standout Mason Tufuga has committed to play volleyball at Stanford.
(Don Leach / Daily Pilot)
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Mason Tufuga knew his visit to Stanford would take place during Halloween.

At the last minute, he put together a costume. He packed a Hawaiian shirt and lei, and dressed up as a native Hawaiian.

Next year, Tufuga’s outfit will be that of a Stanford men’s volleyball player.

The Costa Mesa High senior opposite said he has verbally committed to the Cardinal. Tufuga said he chose Stanford over UCLA and UC Santa Barbara because of the education Stanford offers and he fell in love with the campus.

“[The decision is] a huge weight off my shoulders,” said Tufuga, who plans to sign a national letter of intent with Stanford on Nov. 11, the first day he can do so. “I can now relax, but I can still be serious about academics and athletics during my last year of high school.”

Tufuga is a standout on the court and in the classroom, saying he has a 4.3 grade-point average.

Balancing school with sports is something Tufuga has handled well since his freshman year at Costa Mesa. He began playing football in the fall, basketball in the winter and baseball in the spring.

Before his sophomore year, Tufuga decided football wasn’t for him. He continued with basketball, and then in the spring, he dropped baseball because it burned him out.

Instead, Tufuga came out for the Mustangs’ volleyball team for the first time. The move made sense since Tufuga took up club volleyball before high school.

Tufuga said a big reason why he has the chance to play volleyball on the next level is due to his ties to the Lake Forest-based Orange Coast Volleyball Club.

“Biggest opportunity for scouting,” Tufuga said, adding that the year-round club offered him the chance to face some of the best talent in the country and compete in front of college coaches.

Before Tufuga plays his final year of volleyball at Costa Mesa, the basketball season is right around the corner. Tuesday marked the first day of practice with his basketball team.

Tufuga said he doesn’t feel 100%. He injured his left ankle three months ago during a club volleyball scrimmage, but he said he would be ready for Costa Mesa’s season opener against Santa Ana on Nov. 23.

Basketball and volleyball have been the two sports Tufuga has excelled at the most while with the Mustangs. As a junior, he earned Daily Pilot Newport-Mesa Dream Team and first-team All-Orange Coast League honors in both sports, sharing the league MVP in volleyball.

While volleyball is where his future is in college, Tufuga talked a little basketball during his official visit to Stanford last weekend.

One member of the Stanford volleyball team is Kevin Rakestraw, a former two-sport star at Newport Harbor. Tufuga said he guarded the 7-foot Rakestraw during a high school basketball scrimmage between the Sailors and Mustangs three years ago, when Rakestraw was a senior and Tufuga was a freshman.

“I told him that I remembered him throwing down two dunks, and he said he remembered as well,” Tufuga said. “I reminded him that Costa Mesa beat Newport Harbor in the scrimmage, and we just laughed about it.”


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