Flintridge Prep boys' volleyball picks up six All-Prep League honors

It was balance that led a well-rounded Flintridge Prep boys' volleyball team to a Prep League title with an undefeated run through the four other league teams in 2013.

The Rebels' well-rounded makeup may have hurt them when it came to the all-league meeting, though, as they didn't leave with the player of the year after dominating the league.

"I think that might have been the trouble for the league MVP voting," said Flintridge Prep Coach Sean Beattie, who saw libero Cody Hiroto of third-place Rio Hondo Prep voted the league player of the year. "We didn't have that one go-to guy, we had a really balanced team."

While Prep (19-8, 8-0 in league), which posted six league sweeps, didn't reap the league's top individual honor, it did have a league-high six players named to the first and second teams in total with three on each squad.

A trio of seniors — Chadd Cosse, Kareem Ismail and Mike Lii — were Flintridge Prep's first-team picks.

Cosse, an outside hitter, led the team and league in kills with 203 on the year. Paired with Ismail, who had 189 kills this year, at middle blocker and the Rebels had a dangerous front-line attack.

"One of every two sets [Ismail] got this year went down, same thing with Chadd; those were our two guys who hit over .500 this year," said Beattie, as Ismail and Cosse had kill percentages of 52.9 (189 of 357) and 51.5 (203 of 394), respectively. "Coming from two different positions it made things diifficult for other teams to defend us."

Cosse also had 69 digs and 16 aces on the year and Ismail, a middle blocker, was a dangerous dual threat with 118 blocks (104 solo), 20 digs and 12 aces.

Lii was responsible for keeping the Rebels' offense, which had five players with more than 100 kills, balanced. The setter had 701 assists, 102 digs, 35 kills and 31 aces.

"Mike Lii did an amazing job disitributing the ball, he was very crafty and unprediactable," Beattie said. "All five hitters had over 100 kills this year and that's the first time that's every happened in the school's history and I credit that to Mike."

Two more Prep seniors were named to the squad in libero Kurt Kozacik and middle blocker Tyler Weakland, along with freshman Dante Fregoso, who were all second-team selections.

Kozacik set two school records in digs (261) and positive serve-receive passes (337) in a year.

"He played out of his mind this year," Beattie said of Kozacik. "He just kind of came out of nowhere this year; last year he played OK for us, this year he played amazing for us. He made Mike Lii's job a lot easier with good serve-receive."

While Weakland at 6-foot-2 was three inches shorter than Ismail, Beattie said that duo was dubbed the "twin towers in the middle" by the team.

"Even though he isn't as tall as Kareem, he'd jump through the roof," Beattie said of Weakland, who tallied 143 kills, 57 blocks and 51 digs. "He had a good offensive and defensive play."

With 11 players on its 14-man roster set to graduate, there's no doubt next year will be a rebuilding project for the Rebels.

"We are going to miss everybody, there's no easy way to put it," Beattie said. "In my opinon, this is the best all-around team I've ever had."

That's not to say there's nothing to look forward to at Flintridge Prep.

Fregoso, an outside hitter, hit the 200 mark in digs (205), kills (200) and also had 43 blocks and 23 aces. He also drew high praise from Beattie, who compared the freshman to Dylan Walker — one the top players in program history who went on to play at the University of Pacific.

"Dante is going to be kind of the future of the team," Beattie said. "To be honest, compare [Fregoso and Walker's] freshman years and [Fregoso] had a better freshman year. As long as he puts the work in, he could be one of the best players we've ever had at Flintridge Prep."

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