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Athlete of the Week Long Beach City College Long Beach State Racing Volleyball’s Athletes of the Week

The562’s Athletes of the Week is sponsored by the Long Beach Century Club.

Congratulations to our Athletes of the Week and thanks to the Long Beach Century Club and Naples Rib Company for their support.


Kyle Kirkwood, Andretti Autosports

Andretti Autosports’ Kyle Kirkwood won the 48th annual Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach last weekend, leading for 53 of 85 laps to bring home the checkered flag. It was the first IndyCar win for Kirkwood, who joins an illustrious list of drivers to get their first win in Long Beach that includes team owner Michael Andretti.


Matthew Pennala, LBCC Volleyball

The LBCC men’s volleyball team won its 13th consecutive match last Friday, sweeping El Camino to wrap up the No. 1 ranking in the State at the end of the regular season. Pennala, a St. John Bosco alum, helped lead the Vikings to the win with 10 kills.

Aidan Knipe, Long Beach State Volleyball

Long Beach State setter Aidan Knipe led the Beach to a Big West championship last weekend with a pair of wins over No. 5 UC Irvine. Knipe especially shone in a five-set road win on Saturday, where the Beach hit .342, the 14th time in 23 matches the Beach hit over .300. He had 46 assists in the win.

Malia Gementera, Long Beach State Volleyball 

Paired with Taylor Hagenah, the first-year pair went a perfect 4-0 in their flights at the Center of Effort Challenge, including wins over No. 2 USC, No. 4 Florida State, and No. 6 Loyola Marymount. Their win over USC was their 28th of the season, marking a new program record for most single-season pairs wins. As individuals, they are currently tied for the program record in single-season wins as well.

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.