So far this season, it's a great year for the Redondo Union and El Segundo High boys' volleyball teams that recorded key league victories this week.
In what could be the biggest showdown in the South Bay and one of the tops in Southern California, the Sea Hawks recorded their first victory over the traditional power Mustangs since 2006 with a 25-14, 25-15, 25-22 last Tuesday at Redondo.
In a match-up between two Pioneer League powers, the Eagles swept South Torrance High, 25-18, 25-21, 30-28 on Thursday at El Segundo.
For Redondo, which is off to its best start ever with a 22-1 overall record, including 4-0 in the Bay League after a 25-21, 25-21, 25-16 sweep of Rolling Hills Estates Peninsula Thursday at Redondo, it was definitely a sweet victory and long time coming, especially for several top seniors including fourth year starting varsity player and last season's all-CIF-Southern Section Division I Richards, libero Tyler Bird and outside hitter Vinny Pizutti.
"This season's just beginning,"Pizutti said. "We did it. It was our greatest match in awhile."
Pizutti sparked the Sea Hawks, currently ranked No. 3 in the Southern Section Division I behind top-ranked Huntington Beach (also No. 1 in the United States) and second rated Newport Beach Corona del Mar, with 17 kills and 13 digs.
Richards added 12 kills and three blocks. Sophomore middle blocker Lucas Lossone contributed six kills and two blocks. Junior opposite hitter Wes Graves had three kills. Another top contributer was junior setter Tanner Smith, who recorded 37 assists and six kills."
"It's nice to be 3-0 in the Bay League," Redondo head coach Duncan Avery said. "We trained real hard on scheming Mira Costa. While we were playing in a tournament in Hawaii (last week), we watched Mira Costa play Punahou (a private school in Honolulu whose one of the most distinguished alumni is President Barrack Obama)."
The Sea Hawks surprisingly dominated the Mustangs, who are faced with a rare rebuilding year after losing all of their starters except University of Southern California-bound senior middle blocker-outside hitter Connor Inlow, in the first two games.
In the third game, a desperate Mira Costa led throughout the earlier part. It held a 9-6 advantage after a kill from Inlow, but Redondo rallied back. The two squads were tied at 22 on a kill from junior outside hitter Cole Anderson but the Sea Hawks sealed the deal with the final three points and clinched the match when the Mustangs' Blake Markland's hit fell wide to the right.
Sophomore outside hitter Roy McFarland led Mira Costa (18-4 overall and 3-1 in league) with eight kills. Inlow put up seven kills. Markland tallied five kills and Andrew Huchel contributed four.
In Redondo's win over Peninsula, Pizutti, who committed to playing volleyball at Long Beach State University next season, contributed his outstanding performance with 19 kills. Bird tallied 15 digs and Tyler Saxton had five kills and two blocks.
Also on Thursday, the Mustangs outlasted host Palos Verdes, 25-18, 25-22, 26-28, 25-27, 15-11. Inlow sparked Mira Costa with 21 kills and four blocks. Markland put up 15 kills. McFarland finished with nine kills and three blocks. Cole Anderson contributed nine kills and two blocks.
The Sea Kings, who are currently in fourth in league at 1-3 and are 11-11 overall, were led by Brad Maricle with 18 kills. Jackson Hobus added 18 kills and two blocks. Travis Long contributed 14 kills and four blocks and Noah Mitre had 12 kills. Defensively, P.V. was led by Gavin Branigan with 21 digs.
At El Segundo, the Eagles grabbed the Pioneer Leauge with the sweep of the usually league power Spartans.
El Segundo, which improved to 15-4 overall and 5-0 in Pioneer action, was led by setter Jacob Richmond with 42 assists. Middle blockers Eric Chance and Steve Moye also did well. Chance finished with 12 kills and four blocks. Moye had six kills.
Nick Rable tallied seven kills. Brandon Kurke totaled six kills for the Eagles, who are ranked 11th in the Southern Section Division II. South entered the showdown ninth in the division.
For the Spartans, who are 11-3 overall and 4-1 in league, Chris Wulpern tallied a match-high 19 kills, including eight in the third game. A pair of errors late in the game enabled El Segundo to clinch the match.
The two teams square off, again, on May 6 at South. Redondo plays at Mira Costa on May 1. The Sea Hawks host West Torrance next Tuesday at 4:30 p.m.