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La Cañada, St. Francis and Flintridge Prep volleyball have playoff hopes

Volleyball: St. Francis looks to match, Rebels, Spartans improve on last year.

February 27, 2013|By Andrew Shortall, andrew.shortall@latimes.com
  • ARCHIVE PHOTO: Flintridge Prep's Kareem Ismail, from left, and La Cañada High's Jonathan Sullivan and Mitchell Page will each look to provide their teams with senior leadership in 2013.
ARCHIVE PHOTO: Flintridge Prep's Kareem Ismail,… (Cheryl A. Guerrero/Staff…)

After the 2012 season ended earlier than hoped for both the Flintridge Prep and La Cañada High boys' volleyball teams, both are poised with renewed aspirations for playoff berths after missing out last year.

The Rebels and Spartans will look to do so under much different circumstances, while nearby St. Francis will look to match its success from last year, one of its finest seasons to date, after having graduated most of its key players.

The majority of Flintridge Prep's starting lineup is in tact, although it is off to a late start with most coming from the boys’ basketball team, which had its Southern Section playoff run come to an end Friday.

Still, Prep Coach Sean Beattie has high hopes for the group once its had some time under its belt, as the Rebels return their setter, both middle blockers, an outside hitter and defensive specialist.

“It’s a team that’s kind of familiar with each other,” said Beattie, whose team will kick off its season when it hosts La Cañada at 3:30 p.m. Friday, “which is good considering the basketball run.”

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While it's a Flintridge Prep squad that missed the postseason last year, there's plenty of reason for optimism with a group that should be dynamic offensively and boast some size after only graduating its libero Michael Ellis and outside hitter Kory Hamane.

Among the returners and basketball players are Kareem Ismail and Tyler Weakland in the middle; Chadd Cosse on the outside; Jedrick Eugenio, who played opposite hitter last year, and a defensive specialist from last year, Harrison Jung.

The Rebels, who went 11-15, 2-6 in the Prep League last year, also return their first-year setter from 2012, Michael Lii and another opposite, Michael Leslie. Kurt Kozacik is one of three players, along with Jung, who'll likely battle for the libero spot with the runner-up likely filling in at defensive specialist.

“I really have high hopes for this team, but I had hopes for last year’s team, too,” Beattie said. “It was definitely disappointing not making playoffs, I thought we were good enough to make playoffs.”

While Beattie would've set his sights on a third-place finish in the Prep League over the last three or four years, he's aiming for the top now after figuring Pasadena Poly and Chadwick, last year's CIF Southern Section Division V champions, should be down a bit this season.

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