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Golden Knights looking forward to showdown

Erik Boal

GLENDALE -- o7 Odds and ends from the local high school boys’

volleyball scene:f7

More than just a nonleague match: When you compete in the Mission

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League, it’s kind of hard to look ahead to any competition outside of

league, for fear that Loyola or Harvard-Westlake might just make you

regreat it.

But for St. Francis High, today’s nonleague match at 6 p.m. at Village

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Christian has been circled on the calendar for quite some time.

After the Crusaders ended the Golden Knights’ amazing CIF Southern

Section Division IV playoff run in last year’s quarterfinals, winning in

four games, St. Francis Coach Mark Frazee didn’t hesitate to schedule

Village Christian in between league matches with West Hills Chaminade

(Friday) and Mission Hills Alemany (April 9).

“They have a lot of good, consistent players and they’re playing some

quality teams so it should be a real good test for us,” Frazee said.

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“I know a lot of their kids through club and I’m very familiar with

the way they play.

“We’re both good, strong teams, but I just wish I was at full

strength. If we had everybody available, I could honestly say that we

wouldn’t be a distinct underdog going in.”

Frazee’s comments came on the heels of learning March 20 that junior

outside hitter Scott Smiland would most likely be lost for the rest of

the regular season and possibly the entire year because of a broken left

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hand.

Smiland -- who was averaging between 15 and 20 kills per match -- was

bit by the injury bug for the second straight year, having been sidelined

for most of last season with a shoulder injury.

However, Smiland returned just in time for St. Francis’ playoff run,

which included upset victories against Morro Bay and Carpinteria.

But this year’s postseason is still more than a month away, and Frazee

believes that a win, or a really good showing on his team’s behalf, might

help its cause for a possible at-large berth should the Golden Knights

not finish among the top three teams in their legaue.

From one Crusade to another: One aspect of tonight’s match that might

possibly favor St. Francis is fresh legs.

There is no doubt that Village Christian is battle tested, but the

Crusaders might also be a little tired having just returned from Las

Vegas, winning five matches and losing four in the prestigious 60-team

Easter Invitational Tournament.

Bill Schnobrich’s squad won its first four matches Monday -- defeating

Rincon High of Tucson, San Diego Francis Parker and local teams Gorman

and Silverado -- before going 1-4 Tuesday against a loaded schedule

featuring Las Vegas powers Basic, Central and Chaparral, along with

Fresno Clovis and Downey, which is ranked No. 9 in Division I.

Prior to its Las Vegas trip, Village Christian -- which boasts an

impressive front line of senior Jeff Culbertson, juniors Mike Richards

and John Mark Wendler, and the Levoe brothers -- sophomore Andy and

senior Matt -- had been toying with its competition, posting a 6-0

record, including 24-1 in games.

Beattie continues to get the job done: With no disrespect to Mark

Frazee or Crescenta Valley Coach John Nelson, Flintridge Prep’s Sean

Beattie is making a serious bid for News-Press All-Area Coach of the

Year.

The reason: He continues to do more with less.

The evidence: Following Tuesday’s Santa Fe League sweep of Bell-Jeff,

the Rebels improved to 8-2, 4-0 in league.

Not bad for a team that lost five starters from last year’s CIF

Southern Section Division V quarterfinal squad and returned just three

players with any varsity experience.

Yes, Beattie’s squad was swept in a nonleague match at South Pasadena,

and sure, the Rebels fell in a hard-fought tournament match to Armenian

General Benevolent Union, but the fact that Flintridge Prep’s April 9

match against visiting Cathedral has early league-title implications

speak volumes about the job done by the fifth-year coach.

Beattie can also credit the consistent play of setter Will Birnie and

the strong contributions from juniors Prescott Gadd and Jordan Nomura,

along with freshman Dennis Flynn, for enabling Flintridge Prep to be

competitive thus far.


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