Local beach volleyball players turn in high performances
Winning a championship at the USA Beach Volleyball High Performance Championships in Hermosa Beach on Sunday was another notch in the belt for Manhattan Beach’s Skylar Caputo, a star for the Mustang’s indoor team who is enjoying a stellar season on the beach.
Playing with first-time partner and future Pepperdine teammate Corinne Quiggle, Caputo led her third-seeded team to the Girls U19 title. But it did not come easy after three days of competition in the highly-competitive division.
The top-seeded team of Zana Muno (Hermosa Beach) and Chrissy Jones (Los Alamitos) fell in the first round of Gold Bracket competition. Unable to reach the Gold Bracket and competing in the Silver Bracket were such notable teams such as Abril Bustamante (Redondo Beach)/Jenna Tunnel (Phoenix, AZ) and Grace Campbell (Manhattan Beach)/Mia Merino (Tustin).
Caputo and Quiggle defeated Ali Eager and Sarah Sponcil 21-19, 21-15 in the championship match.
“The talent level is definitely high,” Caputo said. “There are a lot of girls from across the country and many are living here (South Bay) now to train. It’s great to have them all in one tournament. Not playing against older women like in the CBVA Women’s and Open divisions and just being able to play against all these girls raises one’s confidence level. To be able to play with someone I’ve never played with before was a challenge in itself. To figure out how we were going to play, to progress together throughout the tournament and put it all together to win it all is even better.”
Quiggle and her family recently moved from Ponte Vedra, Florida to Manhattan Beach.
“I love Manhattan Beach,” Quiggle said. “It’s a beautiful place and I feel very comfortable here.”
Quiggle and Caputo have committed to play sand volleyball at Pepperdine in the fall of 2015
“It feels pretty amazing to be champion,” Quiggle said. “Skylar is awesome. This was our first tournament together, but I loved playing with her.”
Caputo will be seeking a second straight title this weekend when the AAU Junior Olympics are held in Hermosa Beach July 24-27. She will be partnering with Bustamante, a long-time friend Bay League rival who was named the AAU 2013 Female Player of the Year.
“It was frustrating not to make it into the gold bracket,” Bustamante said. “We got in the pool with all the A-1 teams. So many games went to three so it wasn’t easy. I’m really excited to be playing with Skylar next weekend.”
The competition will help prepare Caputo for the 2014 Youth Olympic Games on Aug. 14-28 in Nanjing, China where she will partner with Muno.
The Boys U19 competition was equally demanding but local players won gold, silver and bronze. The top-seeded team of Vinny Pizzuti and Louis Richard, who led Redondo Union’s indoor team to a record-setting season, was defeated in the first round of Gold Bracket competition when fourth-seeded Blake Markland (Manhattan Beach) and Davis Gilette (Huntington Beach) stunned the favorites 22-20, 21-15.
“Blake and Davis played really well,” Richard said. “We came in with high expectations but it just didn’t work out.”
“It was an unfortunate loss,” Pizzuti added. “They played the game of their lives. They were on another level that we’ve never seen before. That was not excuse because we did not execute on our side of the net. This is one of the toughest tournaments in the nation.”
The win proved to be no fluke as Markland and Gilette advanced to defeat second-seeded Devon Burki (Redondo Beach) and Kyle Skinner (Santa Barbara) in a thrilling 21-19, 17-21, 16-14 championship match.
Pizzuti and Richard finished third in the division.
Like Caputo and Muno, Richard will be competing in the Youth Olympic Games next month, partnering with T. J. DeFalco of Huntington Beach.
“I’m really looking forward to the trip to China,” Richard said. “T.J. comes back tomorrow so we’ll start working together to prepare for the upcoming tournaments. I’ll do my best to represent the United States.”
Next week, the teams of Richard/DeFalco and Burki/Skinner will be competing in the FIVB U19 World Championship to be held July 29 – Aug. 3 in Porto, Portugal.
After capturing the AAU Junior National championship the previous week, Luke Grafton (Hermosa Beach) and Dane Johnson (Manhattan Beach) returned to Hermosa Beach and dominated the Boys U15 division at the HP Championships. The duo went 10-1 on the final day with a 21-11, 21-9 victory in the championship match.
The USA Volleyball Beach High Performance Program is the most prestigious junior beach volleyball program in the country and is recognized as one of the premier international pipeline development programs in the world. Entry into USAV Beach High Performance (BHP) programs is based upon selection at one of several USAV Beach High Performance Tryouts held in host regions March through June. Each tryout will include up to four hours of beach time where athletes strive to be selected for the USAV Junior Beach National Team (A1), USA High Performance Teams (A2), and USAV High Performance Camps (Junior A3 and A4).
For complete results, visit teamusa.org