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2017 Year in Review: Beach Sports

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Mira Costa captured the inaugural Interscholastic Beach Volleyball League State Championship with sweeps against Branson and Palisades Charter. Team members include (left to right) Rio Frohoff, Alexia Inman, Sunny Villapando, Piper Monk-Heidrich, Maddie Micheletti and Riley Hazelrigg. Photo by Kat Monk

Costa teams dominate on the beach, again

by Randy Angel

Mira Costa’s beach volleyball program continued its supremacy on the sand courts this year with both its girls and boys teams capturing Interscholastic Beach Volleyball League titles.

The Mustang’s girls team increased its winning streak to 71 matches with two sweeps at the inaugural IBVL State Championship, held May 20 at Metro Beach Center in Chatsworth.

The Lady Mustangs, who have not lost since the Southern Pacific finals in 2012, defeated Northern California champion Branson (Ross) in the semifinals then Bay Division and Southern Pacific runner-up Palisades Charter to claim the title.

The San Diego District began one year after the Southern Pacific, fielding eight teams in 2013 and increasing to four divisions this year.

“Northern California had one division (league) in the Bay Area and was new this year,” Southern Pacific Commissioner Gino Grajeda said. “The district also invited several schools to bring a team to an open event, urging more schools to add programs in the Bay Area in 2018. This also prompted the Sacramento area schools to form divisions for next season and be a part of the Northern California IBVL.”

Piper Monk-Heidrich and Sunny Villapando moved up to the No. 1 team for the State Championship after playing as the Mustang’s No. 2 squad in its Southern Pacific title win.

“I was very confident in my whole team that we would be able to keep winning,” Monk-Heidrich said. “We always play our best. It’s nice to help the legacy continue for Mira Costa and we have a good group of girls coming up so I expect to continue our winning streak next season.”

Mira Costa’s No. 3 team of senior Rio Frohoff and sophomore Riley Hazelrigg defeated each opponent 2-0 as did the No. 2 squad of seniors Alexia Inman and Maddie Micheletti.

Harrison Murphy holds Mira Costa’s IBVL championship plaque in front of team members (left to right) coaches Kyle Denitz and Brian Cook, Adam Sevier, Chase Pinkerton, Max Cajuste, Jack Walmer, Bobby Barkley, Thomas Kretschmer, Sam Collins, Dane Johnson, Christian Cavallo, coaches Avery Drost and Miles Evans. Photo courtesy of Anna Johnson

Not to be outdone by Mira Costa’s girl’s team, the boys are building a dynasty of their own.

The Mustangs won their second consecutive Southern Pacific Interscholastic Beach Volleyball League boys championship in the league’s four-year history, sweeping rival Loyola in the finals Oct. 7 at Dockweiler State Beach.

Winning on Court 1 were senior Bobby Barkley and Dane Johnson, Court 2 victors were senior Max Cajuste and sophomore Jack Walmer while junior Thomas Kretschmer and sophomore Sam Collins took care of business on Court 3.

“As a senior, it feels amazing winning back-to-back titles,” Johnson said. “When we won our first championship last year, it motivated the whole team to win it again. To pull it off, in the end, couldn’t have been any sweeter.”

Seniors Harrison Murphy, Christian Cavallo and juniors Chase Pinkerton and Adam Sevier were alternates.

“The toughest schools we played this year were Pali, Loyola, and Redondo,” Johnson said. “Whether we won or lost, when we played against one of those schools, it was always decided by two points.”

Going into the finals, Manhattan Beach residents Barkley and Johnson were well aware of the ability of Loyola’s No. 1 team of Luke Grafton and Luke Turner, both of Hermosa Beach. Grafton has teamed with both of the Mira Costa standouts in multiple AAU and/or CBVA youth tournaments.

The two teams squared off again in the finals of the IBVL Pairs Championships on Oct. 14 with Barkley and Johnson winning gold.

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