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Royal's Versatile Flanagan Finds Another Court to Rule

Boys' volleyball: Highlander basketball standout has 16 kills in three-game victory over Thousand Oaks.


THOUSAND OAKS — Known for his basketball skills, Nick Flanagan slam-dunked another opponent Wednesday night.

Only this time, he did it on a volleyball court.

The Royal High opposite hitter had 16 kills and the Highlanders defeated Thousand Oaks, 15-8, 15-10, 15-7, in a Marmonte League opener at Thousand Oaks.

Flanagan looked extra sharp because the Lancers (0-1 overall) double-teamed the middle to take away Ryan Denihan, who still had 13 kills.

"Almost every time, I was hitting one-on-one," said the 6-foot-5 Flanagan. "Or one-on-none."

Still, Flanagan was part of a brief post-match meeting with a small-college coach who showed up to scout Royal's Denihan, Marc Chaffee and John Baxter.

Good thing Royal's basketball season ended two weeks ago, which is when Flanagan, who had missed three weeks of volleyball practice, traded jump shots for jump serves.

He hadn't touched a volleyball in nine months, but he has adjusted quickly.

"We were sitting there in practice saying, 'Oh, this is nice . . . we've got our opposite [hitter] now,' " Royal Coach Bob Ferguson said.

Wednesday, the Highlanders (2-0, 1-0) showed strong defense at the net--finishing with nine blocks--and had more consistent serving than the Lancers, who had 14 service errors. Royal had four aces and kept Thousand Oaks off-balanced.

Chaffee, who has not fully recovered from shoulder surgery in December, had 10 kills and Baxter had 50 assists, five blocks and four kills.

Thousand Oaks looked sharp while winning last weekend's Ventura tournament and showed some fire midway through the second game, taking a 3-0 lead and temporarily losing it before tying the score, 10-10. Then the fire turned to internal combustion.

As Royal began to pull away, the Lancers argued at one another. They failed to score the rest of the second game and fell behind, 8-1, at the start of the third behind eight kills by Flanagan.

"We have a very talented team, when we get down to business," said first-year Thousand Oaks Coach Scott Van Wig. "They're all great friends, but tonight they stopped being friends and started playing against, not with, each other."

John Penfield stood out for Thousand Oaks, finishing with 17 kills, eight in the second game. Shane Maguire had nine kills and twin brother Neal added seven for the Lancers.

The Lancers are still the only team to win a Marmonte League match against Royal, which they did in 1994, but there were no surprises this time.

The only surprise for Royal, which has won seven consecutive Marmonte titles, was Flanagan.

Said Ferguson: "He killed them."

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