LA CAÑADA FLINTRIDGE — St. Francis High volleyball Coach Mark Frazee received a text message from Nick De Cesare on Wednesday morning, leaving Frazee in good spirits leading up to the annual nonleague match against neighbor Flintridge Prep.
De Cesare, a senior opposite hitter, messaged Frazee that he "felt good" going into the contest. De Cesare showed he could back up his words on the court.
De Cesare collected eight kills to help host St. Francis pick up a 25-16, 25-14, 25-21 win against Flintridge Prep on Wednesday night.
"Mentally, he was prepared for this match," said Frazee, whose team improved to 2-0. "He's a captain, he's vocal enough and that carries weight.
"We are looking for him for leadership and he gave that. The team will follow his lead and that's something we need."
De Cesare had four kills in the first game to set the tone for the Golden Knights, who began their season Monday with a nonleague road win against Temple City.
St. Francis took advantage of the Rebels (0-2) being short-handed. Five of Flintridge Prep's players — Kenyatta Smith, Jared Norsworthy, Jordan Whaley, Kory Hamane and Sam Honch — are also members of the top-seeded basketball team that will face third-seeded Muir in the CIF Southern Section Division V-AA championship game Saturday at Mater Dei High.
Several of the players attended the match, but it didn't help the Rebels that they were reduced to being spectators.
"We are not going to have these guys for at least two more weeks," said Flintridge Prep Coach Sean Beattie, whose team is ranked No. 4 in the Division V preseason poll behind Chadwick, Vistamar and Salesian and opened its season Tuesday with a nonleague road defeat against Oakwood. "We know that.
"We played good in stretches, but I got frustrated toward the end of the second game. We were playing well and moving our feet and then they score [six points in a row]. I could care less about wins and losses, just give me everything you have."
An ace by De Cesare gave the Golden Knights a 5-2 lead in the first game. St. Francis used a 6-0 run to take an 18-7 lead, capped by an ace by junior libero Thomas Banks.
In the second game, the Rebels closed to within 13-11. However, the Golden Knights used another 6-0 run to extend their lead to 19-11.
Flintridge Prep played its best in the third game. The Rebels closed the gap to 22-21, but two kills in a row by senior middle blocker Kenny Leaven, followed by a kill from senior outside hitter Isaac Blandon completed the sweep.
The Golden Knights received nine kills from junior opposite hitter Wesley Coffey. They also got 13 assists from sophomore setter Chris Thompson and 12 from Banks.
Senior setter Kieren Mulroy contributed 12 assists for Flintridge Prep.