On this date four years ago, Palisades High’s boys volleyball team captured its second consecutive tournament championship and did so in perfect style to establish itself as the team to beat in the City Section. Having swept Kennedy, Cleveland and South Pasadena in pool play the previous night, the Dolphins downed LA Marshall, Heritage Christian, Lancaster, Verdugo Hills and Crossroads to win the Venice Invitational. Palisades managed to take all 16 sets it played in the two-day event, led by liberos Jeff Stuart and Nick Conte, outside hitters Scott Stuart, Akhil Tangutur, Miles Partain and Mason Mallory, middle blockers Justin Howard and Falviano Winther and opposite/setter Marcus Partain. The Dolphins won their next seven matches to improve to 23-1. One week before they had won the Redondo Classic. They would go on to finish undefeated in the Western League and captured the City Division I championship, topping El Camino Real in four sets in the finals. Palisades then fell to Corona del Mar in the first round of the SoCal Division I regionals and finishing the season 37-6 under head coach Carlos Gray. Rounding out the roster were libero Jimmy Taylor, hitter Eros Surya and setters Colum Yeh and Riley Byington. The Dolphins went 34-3 the following season and swept Chatsworth in the City’s inaugural Open Division final. In 2019, the team set a school single-season record with 42 victories on its way to a third straight City crown, defeating El Camino Real in four sets in the Open Division final. After a victory over Saddleback Valley Christian in the first round of the SoCal Regionals, Palisades was stunned by Mira Costa in the semifinals. It was the first time in four years that Marcus Partain, Howard and Tangutur lost on their home floor. While they were winning three straight section titles, the Dolphins also had three straight City Players of the Year—Jeff Stuart in 2017, Tangutur in 2018 and Marcus Partain in 2019. Gray called his 2019 squad the most talented he has ever coached. The team got off to a 9-1 start in 2020 before the season was canceled due to COVID-19.
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