Shorthanded Rebels swept by top seed

LA CAÑADA FLINTRIDGE — The Flintridge Prep boys' volleyball season ended the way it started — with its top player on the sideline.

For Flintridge Prep senior middle blocker Kenyatta Smith, the circumstances were significantly different. He and several of his teammates missed the beginning of the season to lead the school's basketball team to its first CIF championship.

On Saturday, the Harvard University-bound Smith missed Flintridge Prep's CIF Southern Section Division V quarterfinal home match against top-seeded Vistamar because of an off-the-court accident he said occurred Friday and required five stitches to treat his abdomen.

Flintridge Prep felt the void and saw its season wrap up with a 25-14, 25-16, 25-14 home loss to Vistamar.

"With him in there, it changes things," said Flintridge Prep Coach Sean Beattie, who added that starting libero Alex Holden suffered a dislocated shoulder moments before the match started, but still played the bulk of the contest. "I can't say the match would have been any different, but he brings a presence to our lineup on offense and defense.

"We tried to patch things up and we worked hard. We had to change things on the run. It's been crazy."

Vistamar (21-2) showed Flintridge Prep (12-14) why its the top team in the division. The Vikings, a fourth-year program which captured the Santa Fe League championship before posting playoff wins against Pacific Lutheran and Holy Martyrs, controlled the net and the backcourt to turn back the Rebels.

Vistamar, which will next compete against Pasadena Poly in a semifinal match Tuesday, received 15 kills from outside hitter Evan Simon, 13 from middle blocker Alex Stephanus and 12 from outside hitter Colin McCall.

"We were expecting them to have Smith in the lineup," Vistamar Coach Alec Gilliland said. "We came in prepared to stop their middle attack."

Flintridge Prep, which placed third in the Prep League and then earned postseason victories against Laguna Blanca and Firebaugh, got seven kills from middle blocker Jared Norsworthy and 16 assists from setter Kieren Mulroy.

Norsworthy, also a member of the basketball team, said the Rebels had a tough time adjusting without the 6-8 Smith on the court.

"It was very hard," Norsworthy said. "Without him, we are limited with our height.

"We went out there and gave it our best shot. They are the No. 1 team for a reason."

In the first game, the Vikings got out to a 13-6 lead on a kill by Simon. The Rebels never got closer than five points the rest of the game.

Flintridge Prep was more competitive in the second game, taking a 5-3 lead on a Chadd Cosse kill. However, the Vikings went on a 10-3 run to take a 13-8 advantage and never looked back.

The third game saw Vistamar lead throughout, building a 12-5 lead on a kill by Simon.

Beattie said the Rebels experienced an emotional season.

"We had some guys out [with basketball commitments] and we came back strong toward the second half of the season," Beattie said. "We came from being down 2-0 against Laguna Blanca and we beat Firebaugh."

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