By Fred Altieri
The Culver City High boys volleyball program hosted an all-day, Varsity Classic, nine-team invitational tournament on Saturday, April 19 on a glistening newly refurbished, hardwood floor in Del Goodyear Gymnasium.
There’s newly painted lines complete with a large Centaur logo at center court. When all was settled in the late afternoon Palisades Charter ended up with the championship gold by squeezing out a one-set seesaw thriller against Arrowhead Christian, 25-23.
The tournament opened with two pools of round-robin action. Culver City, Arrowhead Christian, Leuzinger, Moorpark and Jordan were in Pool A. Palisades, Viewpoint, Bishop Amat and Ganesha were in Pool B. Four teams advanced into the Gold Championship: Arrowhead Christian, Palisades, Culver City and Viewpoint.
During semifinal action Arrowhead took out Viewpoint in straight sets, 25-19 and 26-16 while Palisades was beating Culver in two close sets, 25-22 and 25-21.
Centaur head coach Joe Manzo opened: “I decided to give a tournament this year and give the boys a chance to stay home to show off our new gym and facilities. The floor is an exceptional new thing that we got. It also gives other schools a chance to see what we’re doing here at Culver City.”
Next, a run-down of the Centaurs’ five matches played that day:
“The earlier matches we had some easier teams. When we got to the two pools where each had two good teams: Culver City and Arrowhead in one pool and Palisades and Viewpoint in the other. The other teams were okay. As we got to the better teams there were really good matches.
“Against Arrowhead we won the first set. We established the middle. We had a lot of working with the middle where the middle blocker on the other side couldn’t get to the outside to block the outsides. During our second set our middles weren’t getting up like they did in the first set.
“The third set was the same way as they started cheating on our outside hitter and blocking him that way. And they also served a little tougher. It was tied in the last set and was a good fight. Both teams worked hard but Arrowhead came out with the win, 16-14.
“The match against Moorpark was a fun game. They had some good height but were inexperienced. They have some big kids and big hitters, blocked a lot of good balls. We didn’t pass that well but we were able to come through and beat them.
“In the match against Palisades, their setter was phenomenal. He pretty much controlled the match, dictated where we were going. Our defense wasn’t the best, our passing was mediocre in the beginning. But then we started getting late runs. We finished off strong in both sets which is a good look for us but we didn’t win. We just have to learn to start in the middle and work stronger the whole time.”
The current Culver varsity roster includes: Chandler Atterberry, junior; Sean Lee, junior; Ryan Allison, junior and co-captain; Tyler Nakamoto, junior; Ryan Armstrong, senior; Alex Davis, junior; Josh Ocana, senior; Ben Arena, junior; Dylan Weiss, junior; Kyle Johnson, sophomore; Mahari Teclezghi, senior; Eric Hernandez, senior; Wes Dixon, senior and co-captain; Jake Newman, junior.
The boys volleyball program is looking forward according to Manzo: “Season-wise we’re doing okay. In league we are 4-0 which is kind of nice. But we’ve been playing some tough competition, some D2 and D1 teams. We’ve been holding our own, getting beat up a little here and there but all-and-all the kids have been having a good time. They see that there’s a good opportunity with this squad to do well and they’re working hard.”
Culver league championship hopes will be decided this week for all practical purposes. “This week we are playing against Santa Monica on Tuesday and Beverly Hills on Thursday. Those two games will determine if we win the league championship or not. It’s a great opportunity and possibility.”