Culver Volleyball Tournament Called a Success


April 23, 2015

Fred Altieri

Chandler Atterberry and Ben Arena blocking the ball

By Fred Altieri

Sports Reporter

The 2nd Annual Culver City Varsity Volleyball Tournament was once again a resounding success for the eight teams that participated at Del Goodyear Gymnasium on Saturday, April 18.

The one-day competition ended in a seesaw thriller as Bishop Montgomery High pulled out the championship match over Granada Hills High, 28-26.

The host Culver High team was on an early roll as the boys swept all three of their Pool 2 matches beginning with an 8 a.m. starting time victory over Leuzinger High: 25-5, 25-12. But they couldn't overcome their depleting squad as they lost in the semifinals against Granada Hills.

Unfortunately, injuries left the Centaurs with only seven players in their loss to the Highlanders: 25-16, 25-18. They had advanced to the Gold Division by also beating Sweetwater High from National City: 25-11, 25-18 and Crossroads: 25-23, 25-12 in pool play.

Head coach Joe Manzo on the match: "One of our guys got hurt when we played Granada Hills. We tried to play through it but it didn't work. I had to pull one guy out completely and then our big guy got hurt in the middle of second game. So pretty much injuries got us.

"Granada had some good players and good skills. Tom Harp is a great coach, has been coaching that program for a long time and they've done extremely well."

Rounding out the eight-team field: Cantwell Sacred Heart and Hawthorne High, both whom competed in Pool 1 play. Sweetwater beat Cantwell, 25-19, to take the Silver Division.

The tournament's basic format: There are two four-team pools. The top two teams in each pool go to the Gold Division, the bottom two teams go to Silver Division. Both division winners get a plaque.

Every team entered gets at least one player on the All-Tournament team. The winning team gets two players on the All-Tournament team plus the MVP.

The tournament according to Manzo: "Once again it was a great day of volleyball all-around. We had some good teams and quality games. When we got two teams that were on the same level there were good matches, long rallies, play and consistency.

"It was a great match. Bishop was down in the beginning and came back. Granada caught on, went up. Bishop went up. Any simple mistake would cost one of the teams a point but then they would recover from it. They battled to a 28-26 final. That's what you want to see," said Manzo of the championship game.

Kevin Norman, Bishop Montgomery head coach since 2007, spoke about his squad: "Winning the tournament was awesome. I'm happy the way our guys figured it out. We used this tournament to see if the rotations we've been working on were going to help us.

"We just play defense, serve tough and do the little things like blocking, being smart on the block and trying to take away a zone. I make my guys call it out for the win, even in practice. So everybody knows they need to win this rally to win. We don't worry about the score.

"I was happy to see that my guys didn't crumble. Granada had some pretty dynamic hitters, got their side outs, blocked balls and made some great digs. We came back, played to win and made the plays when it was crunch-time. I was happy that it was that much of a battle."

Manzo noted one team's journey and effort: "We had a school come up from San Diego, Sweetwater. They had a great time and won the silver. They came up Friday, went to dinner, spent the night, came out Saturday to play all day and enjoyed themselves.

"And that's what I'm looking for: more teams that want to come up and enjoy themselves, have a good tournament and good competition. It does well for everyone in general."

Seven-year Sweetwater head coach Erik Hernandez on the event: "We thank Joe Manzo for giving us the opportunity to come up and see the L.A. talent. It was a good experience for us because we want to play some of the better teams.

"We were down by two points but came back when our senior leadership took over, served tough and blocked well. Our defense was doing a good job of moving, grabbing everything. Our serve receive was awesome so we were able to get good sets and good hits," said Hernandez.

"The guys felt great about winning. I wanted the guys to hang out with themselves and just think about volleyball. So it was nice to finalize our rotation with everybody coming together and creating that team effort. It was nice to be here."

Coach Manzo expects the tournament to grow: "It's good to have the strong City teams come in and have a good showing with the CIF schools. I know the coaches from the other schools enjoyed coming here because we take a lot of pressure off of them as far as worrying about reffing the tournament.

"They just come play and have a good time. And that's what it's pretty much about. I think if we continue the tradition of doing this more teams will want to come here and maybe it'll open up to a 12-team tournament sometime in the future. It was fun. The boys had a good time."

Gold Champions - Bishop Montgomery

Silver Champions - Sweetwater

All Tournament MVP - Blake Miles - Bishop Montgomery

All Tournament Team

- Drew Beimel - Bishop

- Bryce Tokatlian - Bishop

- Drake Uthe - Granada Hills

- John Beditcian - Granada Hills

- Jonathan Cummings - Culver City

- Schuyler Dietz - Crossroads

Fred Altieri

Tournament Champions Bishop Montgomery Knights

- Sebastian Hoang - Cantwell

- Victor Nevarez - Sweetwater

- Angelo Smith - Leuzinger

- Nick Fiore - Hawthorne


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