Lakewood Millikan

Lakewood Volleyball Looking Like CIF Title Contender

When the Lakewood Lancers boys’ volleyball team started the season, coach Devon Taylor said the team didn’t write down specific benchmarks to measure the year by.

“We didn’t set any tangible goals, we didn’t talk about winning Moore League or winning CIF,” he said. “We just wanted to create an environment where everyone could get better and enjoy playing.”

Well, now it looks like the Lancers might win the league and the school’s first CIF championship since the baseball team did it in 2006. Lakewood is undefeated in the Moore League and ranked No. 1 in this week’s CIF Southern Section poll for Division 3. The Lancers looked every bit the title contenders in a quick Thursday sweep of the league’s second-best team this year, Millikan. The Lancers swept the Rams 25-18, 25-20, 25-12.

“I think we’re playing really well right now,” said Kyler Tufuga, who led the Lancers with 12 kills, 13 digs, and four aces. “We want to go really far this year.”

The Tufuga trifecta was once again key for Lakewood. Teilon Tufuga is the star of the league, and has committed to join his older brother Storm at BYU. He had 10 kills, seven digs, and two aces while setter Kyler Tufuga guided the Lancers to a hitting percentage over .400.

The Lancers’ roster looks like a typical high-quality high school volleyball squad. There’s the Tufugas, but also a converted basketball player in Daniel Wright, who’s proven to be an athletic and natural middle blocker, able to slide from pin to pin and kill the ball or lock down the block.

For Millikan coach Matt Johnson, it was a frustrating match. His Rams defeated Poly in four sets and defending league champion Wilson in a sweep earlier this year, but injuries prevented them from having a full roster against the Lancers on Thursday.

“There’s no excuses but we’re down three guys today—everyone knows they’re the toughest opponent in league and you’ve got to be at full strength and playing really well to beat them,” said Johnson.

Millikan setter Matthew Acebedo did his best to guide the Rams’ offense around an imposing Lakewood block, and he ended up with 18 assists. Ryan Grother led the way with nine kills, backed up by seven from Julian Postma and six from Tristan Cox.

When league play resumes next week Lakewood will visit Compton on Tuesday while Millikan hosts Cabrillo.

Mike Guardabascio
An LBC native, Mike Guardabascio has been covering Long Beach sports professionally for 13 years, with his work published in dozens of Southern California magazines and newspapers. He's won numerous awards for his writing as well as the CIF Southern Section’s Champion For Character Award, and is the author of three books about Long Beach history.