PASADENA — That eternal question of which is better — public or private — didn't take on much of a discussion at Saturday afternoon's inagural 2012 San Gabriel Valley All-Star Senior boys' volleyball game at Braun Gym at Caltech University.
The Private School team, which included three Division I signees, proved too talented in defeating the Public School side, 25-19, 25-18, 30-28.
With the victory, Pasadena Poly's Michael Saeta, who's headed to UC Irvine, was named team co-MVP along with La Cañada resident Alex Slaught of Loyola High, who will join USC shortly.
"This was really fun and an experience I've never really had before," said Saeta, who tallied a match-high 10 kills and 13 assists. "You always play these teams and you always wondered what it would be like to play with them."
Saeta and company received their biggest challenge in the third game as the Public side led, 7-6, and didn't surrender the advantage until the Private side pulled even at 23 on a kill from St. Francis' Michael Bacall.
The Private squad then pulled ahead when the jump serve of Ohio State-headed Driss Guessous of Loyola, nearly caused a collision and forced Burbank Burroughs' Ike Nwachi to leap frog over teammate Stanley Yong of Arcadia, which resulted in an ace.
However, to its credit, the Public side forged a tie when Nwachi (five kills) bounced back with a blistering spike through the dig attempt of Guessous, a Pasadena resident.
Both teams traded points until the Private side notched the go-ahead point on a Public attacking error that gave them a 29-28 advantage.
Guessous (six kills) then clinched the match with a blast between two defenders.
"This was a nice experience, especially since I didn't know too many guys," said Slaught, who finished with eight kills and three digs. "These was a great way to showcase the volleyball talent in the San Gabriel Valley."
The Private squad flexed its muscles in the first game in rebounding from a 7-6 deficit with an 8-0 run behind the serve of La Salle's Peter Nuguid (match-high 22 assists) and fueled by two blocks and a kill from Bacall.
"This is an all-star game and we just kind of got rolling," said Bacall, who finished with seven kills and two blocks. "The roster was just a little stacked on our side."
Despite the spurt, the Public side may have turned in the top highlight when Temple City's Victor Hsieh and Burrough's Robbie Rutecki joined for a thunderous combo block of Slaught that pushed the score to 20-13.
"It was fun for Ike and I because we got to play in our home positions at middle," said Rutecki, who tied with Nwachi and Arcadia's Dake Ying with a team-high five kills. "This was interesting because we see a lot of these guys in league and in nonleague and now we got to play with them."
In the third game, the Private School's lead was trimmed to 17-16 on a centerline violation. The private side didn't flinch and instead rallied with eight of the final 10 points, including a game-winning kill from Saeta through the block attempt of Hsieh (four kills), who was named the Public MVP.
Other public school locals included Burrough's Hugo Ayala,San Marino'sDean Ohashi and John Silk and South Pasadena's Ali Jabalameli, Ben Hillman and Thomas Adamson.
As for the private squad, La Salle's Alex Schuester and St. Francis' Thomas Banks and Tyler Korzun rounded out the locals along with Salesian's Amir Lugo-Rodriguez (five kills), who is a resident of South Pasadena.