Vinny Pizutti recorded a game-high 17 kills in Redondo Union’s sweep of rival Mira Costa. Photo by Ray Vidal
It was a long time coming, but the seniors on Redondo Union’s boys volleyball team finally knocked off rival Mira Costa.
In a battle between the third and fifth-ranked teams in the CIF Southern Section Division 1 poll, Redondo proved there is more separation between the two teams than two spots in the rankings playing a near flawless match.
Redondo came out swinging behind the arms of seniors Vinny Pizutti and Louis Richard. The Sea Hawks dominated the first two sets with 25-14, 25-15 wins.
Mira Costa battled back in the third game holding an early lead. But after Redondo tied the game 9-9, the Mustangs would not lead again. Coach Sean Shoptaw’s squad kept it close, never falling behind by more than two points, and tying the game 22-22. Then Redondo scored the final three points for the emotional win.
Pizutti led Redondo with 17 kills and had 13 digs. Richard added 12 kills and three blocks, sophomore Lucas Lossone had six kills and two blocks and junior setter Tanner Smith recorded 37 assists and tallied six kills.
“It was great to win in front of our fans,” said an exuberant Pizutti. “All our friends and family were here. We controlled the first two games. Our blocking was good and our swinging was insane. The third game we knew they were going to step up – which they did – so when they stepped up, we stepped up and didn’t let them get by us.
“I was surprised at the sweep because Costa is so legendary having so many great teams. We’ve lost so many times in the past but we came with our best tonight.”
Mira Costa’s Roy McFarland had eight kills to lead the Mustangs. Photo by Ray Vidal
Richard, a four year starter for the Sea Hawks, was all smiles after the victory.
“This win meant a lot to us,” Richard said. “We’ve worked so hard and we really played together. Our main goal was to win the cornerstones – serving and passing – and we did. We’ve talked about beating Mira Costa for four years.”
Redondo coach Duncan Avery was proud of his team’s performance.
“The way we train, the way we play, I’m never surprised at what our guys can do,” Avery said. “We played hard, we played aggressive and we did a lot of good things out there. At any level of volleyball the key to winning is serving and passing. We served the ball really well; we passed the 2-5-3 so if we can do that we’re going to win a lot of games.”
Redondo (20-1, 4-0) extended its winning streak to 15 matches while beating Mira Costa for the first time since 2006. The Sea Hawks continue Bay League action with 4:30 p.m. home matches against Peninsula on Thursday and West on Tuesday.
Mira Costa (17-4, 3-1) had a balanced attack but couldn’t find any rhythm. Roy McFarland recorded eight kills, Connor Inlow had seven kills, Blake Markland posted five kills and Andy Huchel added four kills.
“It was not a great night for us,” Shoptaw said. “We didn’t compete at the level we need to in order to win those kinds of matches, it’s disappointing, but we’ll keep working until we fix it. If we compete at a high level and execute consistently we can be a tough team, that’s our objective moving forward.”
Both teams were coming off strong performances in Hawaii last week.
Redondo captured the Kamehameha Cup defeating Kamehameha Hawaii 25-20, 25-23, Waiakea 25-21, 25-16 and Punahou 25-17, 25-21 in pool play.
Four-year varsity starter Louis Richard had 12 kills to help Redondo Union beat Mira Costa for the first time in his prep career. Photo by Ray Vidal
The Sea Hawks defeated Kamehameha Kapalama 25-20, 19-25, 26-24 in the semifinals before facing Waiakea again in the finals with Redondo turning in a 25-18, 25-18 win.
Richard did not make the trip, but enjoyed a successful weekend of his own, qualifying for the Youth Olympic Games in beach volleyball. He and partner T.J. DeFalco, of Huntington Beach, defeated Trinidad & Tobago in the finals in Puerto Rico.
Devon Burki more than filled Richard’s shoes as outside hitter, recording 49 kills in Hawaii. Pizutti added 41 kills and Sean-Michael Cramer had 51 assists and 12 digs.
“Hawaii was a trip of a lifetime,” Pizutti said. “I got to spend time with my best friends on the island of our dreams, playing the sport I love. What else could you ask for? And to win first place, it was just awesome. There are some strong teams in Hawaii which helped us prepare for a run at the CIF title.”
While Redondo had Richard back for the Mira Costa showdown, it lost Burki when the senior acquired a staph infection in his ankle and will be out indefinitely.
“A staph infection is a serious thing,” Avery said. “My thoughts and prayers are with him. I hope he has a fast recovery.”
Mira Costa spent its time on the island playing in the Clash of the Titans. The Mustangs defeated Kamehameha Hawaii and gave perennial power Punahou all it could handle in a five-set loss.
Mira Costa will try to rebound from its loss to Redondo when the Mustangs play at Palos Verdes on Thursday and compete in the Santa Barbara Tournament of Champions on Friday and Saturday.