Beach Prep: Killing it, inside and out-Redondo High four year indoor varsity starter Louis Richard is going to China to compete in sand volleyball at the 2014 Youth Olympics
There are few high school athletes in any sport who have had the opportunity to start on varsity all four years of their prep career.
Redondo Union boys volleyball star Louis Richard has done that through hard work and perseverance. This year he achieved a goal that took all four years to fulfill.
Not only did Redondo defeat rival Mira Costa for the first time since 2009, the Sea Hawks swept the Mustangs in their two league matches to win the Bay League championship outright.
“Sweeping Costa this year had made my senior season very special and was the highlight of my high school career,” Richard said. “In the other years, I saw the pain the seniors were going through.”
Richard is on track to earn his second All-CIF selection while leading Redondo to a No. 3 ranking as the Sea Hawks enter the CIF Southern Section Division 1 playoffs.
The 6-foot-4 outside hitter is physically gifted with great jumping ability, fast reflexes and exceptional hand-eye coordination. His devastating kills often elicit oohs and aahs from the crowd.
Redondo head coach Duncan Avery has seen Richard progress since first meeting him in club ball when Richard was 11 years old.
“Louis has a burning desire to get better,” Avery said. “He watches a ton of film and is always trying to improve. With his industriousness and enthusiasm combined with his skill set, I knew he was going to be special the first time I saw him in the gym. He is extremely aggressive and is great at terminating the ball. When we need a big kill, Louis comes through time after time.”
Richard said his most memorable moment as a Sea Hawk came during his freshman season.
“We lost to Santa Margarita in the CIF quarterfinals,” Richard recalled. “I’ll never forget that feeling. Our seniors were a bunch of good guys and I didn’t want to feel like that in my senior year. It drove me to work that much harder.”
Avery said Richard’s decision making and passing have improved the most during his four years at Redondo.
“For two of his four years, we had him as an opposite where he was not forced to pass on a consistent basis,” Avery explained. “This year, he is close to leading our team in passer ratings. When attacking the ball, he has been making great reads on when to tip, swing, and roll shot. He sees the court so well this year and it has been paying off.”
Although he can be very vocal, at times, Richard leads more by example. His no-nonsense approach and strong work ethic inspires his teammates to match his intensity.
He believes the Sea Hawks have a great shot at winning the CIF title this season. Redondo had a 24-match winning streak snapped on May 3 when San Clemente beat the host team in the Varsity Classic semifinals.
Richard feels it was a wake-up call for his team, but watching other Division 1 teams will prove beneficial in the postseason.
“Seeing teams like San Clemente and (No. 1) Huntington Beach helped.” Richard said. “It showed us that we have a lot more work to do.”
A championship would be the second for Richard during his senior year. He led Redondo to the title in the inaugural season of boys competition in the Interscholastic Beach Volleyball League. The Sea Hawks swept Dana Hills to cap off a perfect 9-0 season.
“Winning in the first year of the league was special,” Richard said. “It was a good start to my senior year. We do a lot of beach training for the indoor team, but to actually play against other schools was exciting.”
Richard is equally accomplished indoors and on the sand.
In April, Richard and TJ Defalco, of Huntington Beach, qualified for the Youth Olympic Games at the NORCECA (North, Central America and Caribbean Volleyball Confederation) qualifying event in Carolina, Puerto Rico. The 2014 Youth Olympic Games will take place on Aug. 14-28 in Nanjing, China.
“TJ is a really good player,” Richard said. “He’s easy to play with and we made a quick connection. I’m really looking forward to playing in China. It will be fun to experience a different culture.”
Richard said Avery and Jon Aharoni have been major influences in his career. Aharoni is the coordinator of USA Beach Volleyball Development and coached Richard and Defalco to their victory in Puerto Rico.
“Not only have I received great volleyball advice from Duncan and Jon, but great life advice as well,” Richard said.
Although he had offers from other colleges, Richard will attend Long Beach State in the fall.
“I wanted to stay local so I could play beach games on the weekends,” said Richard, who will major in Business Marketing.
Richard will be one in a group of a talented freshman playing for Long Beach State. Joining Richard will be Redondo teammate Vinny Pizutti, Defalco and John Tuaniga, a skilled setter and teammate of Defalco at Huntington Beach.
Richard wants to play indoor and/or beach volleyball overseas and someday represent the United State in the Olympics in either sport.
“Volleyball is a big part of my life and I don’t want to stop playing until I’m forced to,” Richard said.