Best of the Rest

Freshman outside hitter Owen Loncar spikes between a pair of Westchester blockers in Palisades’ 25-8, 25-16, 25-11 Western League sweep last Wednesday. The Dolphins improved to 5-0.
Photo: Steve Galluzzo

Pali High Volleyball Reaches Final at Best of the West Tournament

By STEVE GALLUZZO | Sports Editor

When Palisades High volleyball players found out they were seeded sixth for last weekend’s Best of the West Tournament in San Diego they used it as motivation to prove they deserved better.

After two days of action in a field that included most of the top teams in Southern California the Dolphins came in second place, reeling off six victories before falling 25-20, 22-25, 12-15 to top-seeded Newport Harbor in the Gold Division championship match. Being the “best of the rest” was satisfying on a number of levels for a group trying to top what it accomplished last year when Palisades notched more wins and went deeper in regionals than ever before.     

“We placed higher than our seeding but I wanted to win,” Coach Carlos Gray said. “That would make a statement for our program and the City Section plus they would have to give us a home match for state. Still in all, it was a great result and if we see Newport Harbor again somewhere down the line we’ll know what we need to do. On Saturday they won the serve/ serve receive battle and their middles got hot.”   

The Dolphins secured a spot in the final with an equally tense 25-23, 23-25, 15-11 semifinal triumph over No. 2 Loyola, a squad full of local players.

“The third set went back and forth,” Gray said. “Marcus [Partain] moved the ball around well and they had no answer for Miles [Partain]. We had great tempo and won five or six points on stuff blocks.”   

Palisades (12-1) swept Oak Park, Aliso Niguel and Palos Verdes to win its pool Friday, then got a scare from Servite in its first match Saturday before rebounding to sweep San Jose Harker in the quarters. The Partain brothers earned All-Tournament honors.

“It’s crazy because a huge percentage of kids in the Palisades go here or there and we’ve been trying to play them for 10 years,” UC Irvine-bound hitter Akhil Tangutur said of the showdown with Loyola. “The key was treating it like any other game.”

Palisades swept visiting LACES on Monday and afterwards Tangutur celebrated his 18th birthday eating pizza and cake with his teammates.