Boys’ Volleyball Preview: Flintridge Prep seeking to master Prep League again
A season ago, half of the six area boys’ volleyball squads were a part of the CIF Southern Section playoffs.
Flintridge Prep, Crescenta Valley and St. Francis advanced to the postseason, with Flintridge Prep reaching the semifinals. Glendale, Hoover and Glendale Adventist Academy all missed the cut to advance.
All teams return their coaches with the goal of making some noise in the postseason or continuing to build their programs.
Here is a closer look at the teams.
The Rebels are coming off a season in which they went 25-5, 8-0 for first place in the Prep League. Flintridge Prep suffered a five-set road loss to Windward in a CIF Southern Section Division IV semifinal match, thus denying it a trip to a championship match for the first time in program history.
The Rebels look to learn from their experience in their quest to win an eighth straight league title under coach Sean Beattie.
“We made a deep run last season and that will serve as a great experience for the guys coming back,” Beattie said. “We’re looking OK, but we pretty much graduated everybody that contributed for about 95% of our kills last season. So, we have some big shoes to fill.
“We do have a good core coming back and we’ll look to grow together throughout the season. We might take some lumps. However, we feel like we can win another league title.”
Flintridge Prep will be anchored by senior libero Kristofer Chang, senior outside hitter/middle blocker Cole Barnard, sophomore setter Jake Woo and sophomore outside hitter Sean Mealey.
Expectations appear to be high for the Falcons, who return six senior starters.
That might bode well for Crescenta Valley, which finished 18-15, 8-4 in the Pacific League for third place in 2019. Crescenta Valley lost to visiting Quartz Hill in the second round of the Division III playoffs.
“We’ll definitely have a lot of experience,” Crescenta Valley coach John Nelson said. “We’ll be carrying 12 players and we’ll be senior-heavy again.
“We’re looking pretty good and I’d like to think we can contend for the league championship. They are hungry to do that.”
The Falcons will turn to senior outside hitters Ethan Han and Brendan Harvey, senior setter Andrew Boyle and senior libero Rett Cicciarelli to pave the way.
A season ago, St. Francis went 17-11, 3-3 in the Mission League for fourth place before succumbing to host Hart in a Division II wild-card match.
Since then, the Golden Knights have looked to put together a stable rotation to help them ascend in league and earn a return trip to the postseason under coach Mark Frazee.
“We don’t quite have the experience that we’ve had the last couple of seasons, but I think we’ll be OK,” Frazee said. “We definitely want to move up in our league and we’ll be playing in a couple of tough tournaments to help us get ready for league.
“We have some returners, but there’s an opportunity for other players to step up and give us a real good mix of talent.”
St. Francis will be paced by senior outside hitter Oliver Taylor, senior setter Guz Maltzan, junior middle blockers Zack Ferry and Andrew Johnson, junior outside hitter Andrew Choi and sophomore libero Robby Nardoni.
The Tornadoes showed some signs of improvement a season ago, finishing 9-20, 4-8 in the Pacific League for fifth place in the seven-team Pacific League.
Hoover is looking to continue to expand its program.
“We have more depth than we’ve had in quite some time,” Hoover coach Danny Seranian said. “We’ve gotten more people interested in volleyball.
“The main goal is to get more wins than last season and just see gradual overall improvement in different areas. We’re going to need to get some more league wins to pull us through in order to get to the playoffs.”
The Tornadoes return junior middle blocker Seon Nazarian and junior outside hitter Garett Sarmiento.
The Nitros will look to head in the right direction under second-year coach Marilou Elento, whose team went 3-11, 2-10 in the Pacific League for sixth place in 2019.
The good news for Glendale is that it will return the bulk of its squad, giving Elento hope it can contend for a playoff spot.
“It’s good to have most of the players back, plus we’ll have a couple of new additions,” Elento said. “We know that our league will be tough again, but we’ll hope to achieve the goal of moving up in it and go from there.”
Glendale brings back senior outside hitters Akili Ligons and Sean Cha. They will be joined by sophomore Asa Yoshioka.
GLENDALE ADVENTIST ACADEMY
Things appear to be optimistic for the Cougars, who went 0-11, 0-7 in the Liberty League last season.
Glendale Adventist will look to pile up some victories in its quest to make the playoffs for the second time in the last three seasons.
“We’re looking pretty good and we’ll have about 14 or 15 players,” Glendale Adventist coach Chris Lindstadt said. “We’re looking to build the program now and for the next couple of years, so we can continue to add depth.
“It’s a good group and we’ll look to win league and get back to the playoffs.”
The Cougars will be led by senior libero Andrew Flores, junior outside hitter Andrew Tobola and freshman setter Lucas Abarro.