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Different Characters Star, but Ending Is Same for Taft

Volleyball: Toreadors beat Kennedy behind play of Firouzman and Yakovee; remain undefeated.


WOODLAND HILLS — Tomer Firouzman's name is misspelled on the back of his volleyball jersey. Elan Yakovee's right shoulder was decorated with a four-inch scratch from diving into the bleachers for a ball.

They're two of the other players on the Taft High boys' volleyball team that have to hustle, scrap and dig beyond belief to get the headlines normally reserved for Joe Nargi.

They succeeded Tuesday.

Firouzman had a career-high 17 kills and Yakovee added 12 kills for Taft, which downed Kennedy, 12-15, 15-11, 15-8, 15-11, in a Northwest Valley Conference boys' volleyball match at Taft.

Hold the engraving on the championship banner, but the Toreadors (8-0, 6-0 in conference play), by defeating their toughest opponent for the second time, basically clinched their first Northwest Valley title since 1992 and will likely be seeded No. 1 or No. 2 for the City Section 4-A playoffs, which begin May 5.

"It's up to us, not only in league, but in City," Taft Coach Doug Magorien said. "This puts us in the driver's seat."

Nargi had 27 kills for Taft, but Firouzman and Yakovee provided more offense than Kennedy (7-2, 4-2) could handle.

"That's what we've been waiting for since the beginning of the year," said Firouzman, who had six kills in the second and third games and stretched out for several key digs.

Yakovee's moment of truth came in the fourth game, when he launched himself at a ball and skidded hard into the bottom of the bleachers.

"What can you do?" he said. "It's a nice cut."

Jeff Toon had 26 kills and Jason Abel had 12 kills and eight blocks despite a sprained right ankle, but Kennedy had no more offense.

Toon and Abel combined for eight kills and four blocks in the first game.

In the second game, Kennedy outblocked Taft, 11-2, but still lost because nine of the blocks came after Taft grabbed a 10-3 lead.

"If we could have blocked like that the whole time, we would have won the match," Kennedy Coach Mike Stanton said.

The Toreadors needed offense from several players because fiery middle blocker Eric Bowen, who had a career-high 20 kills in Taft's previous victory against Kennedy, did not play.

Magorien was unaware of Bowen's exact whereabouts, but thought he was at a roller-hockey tournament.

"I thought he said he was done with that, but maybe it was a miscommunication," Magorien said.

"Bowen is not in the picture right now. I don't know what I'm going to do with him."

Unless the teams meet in the playoffs, Nargi and Toon likely won't be on the same court again until they play as teammates at Cal State Northridge next season.

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