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Grant Has Turned Into World Beater


Udomsup Inkavesvanitch, who prefers to be called Danny, looks around at his teammates at Grant High.

There's Garnik Martirosyan and Arsen Dadyan, from Armenia. Noriel Lim and John Paul Descargar from the Philippines. Tevita Manu from Tonga.

Ron Roiz, the best player on the team, who is out with a knee injury, was born in Southern California, but is only allowed to speak Russian at home.

"It's really kind of interesting because we all have our different things going on," said Inkavesvanitch, who was born in Thailand. "The fact that we can work together as a team is the challenge."

So far, so good for the Lancers (7-3, 5-2 in the Valley Pac-8 Conference), who have exceeded expectations and are looking at a berth in the City Section Championship tournament, which begins May 4.

The seven foreign-born players on the Lancers each have their own story, including Inkavesvanitch, the senior setter.

He moved from Bangkok when he was 6 years old in order to receive American schooling, he said.

His parents, Somchoak and Nan, "wanted to give me an English education," he said. "Getting an education out of the country was one of the best things parents could do for their kids."

Inkavesvanitch visited Thailand two years ago, but didn't connect with his home country.

"It was different," he said. "Different stores, different buildings. Different everything."

Different sometimes works. It definitely does at Grant.

"We look past all that," said Martirosyan, a junior outside hitter. "It doesn't matter. We can all speak English, so we have no problems."


A glance around the region shows the influence of Coach Bob Ferguson of Royal.

Tom Black, a former assistant under Ferguson, is coach at Thousand Oaks and Mike Bisutti, a former player and assistant under Ferguson, is coach at La Canada.

Coaches Danny Ventura of Rio Mesa and Dean Borth of Simi Valley are former Royal players.

Ferguson's son, Travis, who played at Royal, is a co-coach along with his dad.

"I wish I had an easy answer for why these kids decide to do this," Bob Ferguson said. "We kind of develop a love of volleyball. Maybe the kids get it naturally, but if you love it, you want to teach it."

Ferguson will coach against Black when Royal plays Thousand Oaks on Friday in a match that has Marmonte League title implications.

Royal (11-0, 7-0) swept Thousand Oaks (9-2, 7-1) when the teams met last month.

"Nobody runs a program better than [Ferguson] does," said Black, who is in his first year at Thousand Oaks. "The tone he sets with discipline and in what is expected from the players is a commitment to winning."


Alemany will be without UCLA-bound setter Richard Nelson for up to three weeks because of a broken pinky on his left hand. Nelson was injured last week against Chaminade.

"It was just a freak thing," Coach Jamie Quaglino of Alemany said.

The Indians (7-4, 5-3) are still two games ahead of Notre Dame for the third and final playoff spot in the Mission League.

Crescenta Valley (5-3, 3-0) has been lifted by the return of 6-foot-3 outside hitter Doug English, who missed the first part of the season because of a shoulder injury.

Since his return, the Falcons are 4-0.

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