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By Steve Finley
Sports Editor 

Boys' volleyball at Culver City high school staying positive

 

March 28, 2024

George Laase (FSG)

Culver City senior boys volleyball player Henry Brownlow, right, gets ready to block a spike attempt against a Da Vinci player. Henry is also a team captain.

Losing at any level of sports competition takes its toll mentally and physically. From pee wee sports to the professional level, losing can be depressing. If you watch a Culver City High School boys' varsity volleyball game, you would not know they are 2-12 overall and 0-6 in the Bay league. During a recent match inside the Culver City High School gymnasium the excitement and camaraderie was bouncing off the walls of the gym.

"We are not winning a lot of games but it's still fun to come out here and compete and play against good competition," said senior captain Henry Brownlow. We are having fun. We have good team chemistry."

Brownlow knows all about great competition because he was one of the best kickers in Southern California when he played for the Centaur football team. At 6'4 and 185 pounds Brownlow has the perfect volleyball body. "We have a lot of guys that are playing hard and having fun," said Brownlow after a recent loss to Redondo Union at home. "Volleyball is a really fun game, and we really play hard as a team. We love playing with each other."

The Centaurs play in one of the toughest volleyball leagues in the nation. Mira Costa is ranked No. 3 in the nation and Redondo Union is in the top 20 in the nation. All of the schools in the Bay league except Culver City are located near the beach and most of the kids at those schools grow up playing beach volleyball.

"Knowing that we are playing some of the best teams in the nation is fun for some kids, but it can also be frustrating for others," said longtime Culver City boys coach Joe Manzo. "As a coach all we can do is find the right goals to achieve for our team and players. We go into these tough matches knowing that we are going to give our best. We try as hard as we can."

This year Manzo is seeing progress in the younger players in the program. "The improvement in our program is coming from our freshmen and sophomores and the Junior Varsity programs. It's wonderful to see kids like Henry (Brownlow) come into the program as 10th graders and get better every year. He just loves the game."

Another Centaur player who really loves the game of volleyball is junior, Kenji Toombs. Toombs is the only true volleyball player on the varsity team. His father played volleyball at Mira Costa and Toombs has played on club teams. "He has been a blessing for the program because he is teaching his friends how to play volleyball," said Manzo.

George Laase (FSG)

Culver City high school boys volleyball player Kenji Toombs gets ready to deliver a powerful serve.

Toombs sees some improvement in the Centaur program, but he also knows that there is a lot of work to be done. "We have a lot of progress to be made and there is a lot of progress that has been made," said Toombs, who is three varsity player. "This is the first year for a lot of the players on the varsity team so it's a lot of fun for me to be playing with some of my friends. Last year there were a lot of seniors on the team."

The Centaurs will host The Annual Culver City Invitational Volleyball Tournament on Saturday, April 13 beginning at 8 a.m. inside the gym. "The tournament is basically how we measure ourselves during the season. The last few years we have performed well in the tournament and this year our goal is to win it all," said Manzo.

 

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