PASADENA — According to the latest CIF Southern Section Division V top-10 poll, three Prep League boys' volleyball teams are ranked.
Among those teams are top-ranked Chadwick, the defending division champion, third-ranked Pasadena Poly and sixth-ranked Flintridge Prep. While the Panthers and Rebels have their sights set on attempting to catch Chadwick at some point, each team had some of their own business to tend to Tuesday afternoon during the first of two head-to-head meetings between the rivals.
Behind a strong performance from Michael Saeta and Colin Woolway, host Pasadena Poly cruised to a 25-18, 25-21, 25-15 win.
The UC Irvine-bound Saeta finished with 15 kills and the Harvard-bound Woolway contributed six aces to help the Panthers improve to 8-0, 1-0 in league. Flintridge Prep, which received 11 kills from Kareem Ismail, dropped to 7-7, 1-1.
"I love the competition that you have throughout the league because it's just a great league," Saeta said. "I think it's going to be similar to last year with everybody battling.
"I can't tell you who is going to win the league, but you know that the matches are mostly going to be good ones."
The Panthers, who finished second in league last season before advancing to the semifinals, controlled the tempo through most of the match. Saeta paved the way, registering timely kills after the Rebels closed the gap. Saeta had four kills late in the third game.
The Rebels, who took third in league last season, had difficulty with their passing game, which played a big role in the Panthers pulling away in each game.
"When we pass well, we can compete," Flintridge Prep Coach Sean Beattie said. "When we don't pass well, it's going to be tough beating anybody.
"We can improve a lot because we have the athleticism to do it. We are looking to learn in every match. The league will be a logjam and you want it to be that way because it gets you ready. A loss can knock you down."
Woolway kept the Rebels down, recording four aces in the third game. Two aces in a row by Woolway gave the Panthers a 9-6 lead. After a kill by Saeta to make it 10-6, Woolway recorded another ace to extend the lead to 11-6. Woolway's last ace made it 23-15 and Mark Loyola closed out the sweep with a kill.
Pasadena Poly first-year Coach Mark Mina said he expects Pasadena Poly, Flintridge Prep and Chadwick to be strong again.
"With this being our league opener, every match will be important," said Mina, who got 22 assists from Curtis Toyota and 14 from Harrison Hodgkins. "I think we can be up there challenging for league.
"We were able to go and make the adjustments that were needed [Tuesday] with our blocking and watching their hitters. I still feel like we can be better, and we'll work on things at practice."
Michael Lii contributed 22 assists for Flintridge Prep, which got six kills from Tyler Weakland and five from Kory Hamane.
The teams will meet again at 4:45 p.m. April 24 at Flintridge Prep.