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Boys on fire

Flintridge Prep boys’ volleyball team hasn’t lost much step from last year after losing five starters. This year could be fruitful.

March 26, 2009|By Seth Amitin

Though the players and the coach alike are cautiously optimistic about their chances this season, and might even do better than last year’s team, no one was going to say it.

“No one thought we’d be this good,” said senior Gavin Thompson. “We’re more of a raw team. We’re playing the plays through, we’re doing long rallies. Last year was more of a brute power team. We had a lot of offense, we just didn’t use it right [at times]. The talent is pretty equal.”

Though last year’s volleyball team did very well for itself, losing in the CIF quarterfinals in a five-set match, this year’s could be better.

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Already 12 games into the season and they’re 9-3, with a strong league schedule in front of them. In their 12 games, they’re 26-11 in sets. But you don’t have to look at their numbers to see why they’re impressive.

On Monday, they defeated Desert Christian, 25-11, 25-8, 25-23, with most of their bench playing the final set.

Thompson had 10 kills and sophomore Kenyatta Smith had eight. Edmond Chow had five digs and returning starter Brandon Taylor had four aces.

“I expected us to take a couple games to get started,” said Prep Head Coach Sean Beattie, “but we started really strong. They’ve exceeded my expectations.”

Playing on the front lines with Thompson, who has made the transition from outside hitter to middle blocker this year, are three of the other returners from last year’s team, turned starters: J.T. Tredwell, an outside hitter, and senior Steve Morse is stepping in as the setter.

What’s more, sophomore Kenyatta Smith, the 6’7” forward on the basketball team, has made the jump to the varsity volleyball team after being on the JV team last year and has been impressive so far at middle blocker. And as Morse sets for him and he cocks his elbow and jumps, you can hear the sonic boom before his hand touches the ball.

“I think he’s a big difference maker on this team,” Beattie said of Smith. “When he’s on, we’re going to do well. Same thing with Gavin.”

Their height on the front lines is between 6’0” and 6’7”. That’s a tall team.

But a lot of the success of the team, according to Coach Beattie, is reliant on Thompson being the anchor.

“We need Gavin to carry this team,” Beattie said. “He’s the main force from last year’s team. I told him at the end of last year, ‘this is going to be your team.’ And he’s done a great job.”


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