COVID-19 Lakewood Long Beach Poly Millikan St. Anthony Volleyball Wilson

Long Beach Boys’ Volleyball Preview

The Long Beach high school boys’ volleyball scene is looking forward to its first full season since 2019 after the COVID-19 pandemic cut 2020 short. St. Anthony is looking to win another league championship in the Del Rey while the Moore League should be an entertaining battle between the top teams once again.

Wilson coach Jeremy Cook said he has his best team ever at Wilson, including the 2017 league championship squad.

“When I found out that Long Beach had received the green light to resume indoor sports, I felt a huge sigh of relief,” said Cook. “We have four seniors who have done everything right on and off the court and deserve the right to compete.”

Outside hitter Payne Lounsbery has been a star for the Bruins since he stepped foot on campus, and the three-time team MVP has signed with Vassar College to play in college. He’s joined in a talented senior class by libero Ben Wilson, opposite hitter Fletcher Garrett, and setter Bryce Lowery.

Junior Leo Pravednikov is bursting with potential, and middle blockers Carson Mckeown, Max Cherin, and Ian Nolte give the Bruins depth in the center of the net. Braden Pool-Harris adds back-row depth.

Long Beach Poly is welcoming a new coach in Sid Davidson, a nationally-recognized coach who had a previous successful tenure at St. John Bosco. Davidson’s Jackrabbits are packed with experienced talent including senior Nathan Cheav, a floor general who’s been a four-year varsity contributor and who’s signed with Hope International. Senior Robert JOnes at opposite has signed with William Penn University.

The other top hitters for Poly will be juniors Malcolm King and middle blocker Garrett Stark.

“We’re very excited to even have a boys’ season,” said Davidson. “Our boys worked hard in the offseason to improve their game while dealing with the pandemic.”

Millikan coach Matt Johnson was actually an advocate for not playing indoors this season, preferring to keep practicing and to begin competing outdoors.

“When we were given the outdoor go ahead I put together a way to have a beach competition for all our levels, and everyone was on board,” he said. “A week afterwards, we heard rumors we might get a chance to play indoors.”

Johnson said he had injury concerns about starting up an indoor season on such short notice, and wanted to continue play on the beach, but was outvoted by the other coaches.

Indoors or outdoors, the Rams have strong talent returning, including setter/hitter JR Worden and outside hitter Tommy Halligan III. The Rams will also rely on up-and-comers from last year’s JV team, including outside Bryce Martinez, middle blocker Shane Sanders, and libero Gio Baltazar.

Lakewood has been dealing with the graduation of five starters, and several other key contributors opting not to play this year due to COVID-19 concerns. Narik Heng and Matt Serrano will be leaders for Lakewood.

St. Anthony is also looking young under longtime coach Alicia Lemau’u, having been depleted by graduations. With just five senior on the roster, the Saints have a big nucleus of sophomores.

“I’m excited for the potential that these boys bring for the future of our program.”

Sophomore Brody Owens will start at setter due to an ACL injury to Mikey Attia, and seniors Nicholas Gonzales and Clayton Poitevin will be key contributors, along with sophomore middle Aiden Beranek.

Cabrillo and Jordan (no response from coaches) are both fielding teams this year, while Compton will sit out the season.

 

Mike Guardabascio
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.
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