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Taft Finds Redemption in Straight-Set Victory

Volleyball finals: Toreadors win boys' City Championship over No. 1 Monroe, 15-4, 15-6, 15-12. Kennedy sweeps Hamilton to take City Division.

May 15, 1999|MIKE BRESNAHAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

NORTHRIDGE — The lessons of the past year, never simple and always present, were finally aced by Taft High.

No doubt, Taft had redemption in mind during a 15-4, 15-6, 15-12 victory over Monroe in the boys' volleyball City Championship on Friday night before 1,100 at Cal State Northridge.

The Toreadors lost to Palisades in last year's City title match and, more recently, suffered an early season five-game loss to Monroe, the topic of much discussion this week.

It can all be forgotten now.

"This is redemption for everything," said Taft opposite hitter Mike Gledhill, who had 17 kills. "We were going to start with fire, play with fire and finish with fire."

The second-seeded Toreadors (15-1) tore through the first two games and held a strong 11-2 lead in the third. Monroe closed to within 14-9 and fought off six match points before the final ended on a Monroe blocking error.

Taft certainly had the more challenging route to the championship, having to defeat Palisades in the quarterfinals and Poly in the semifinals.

"As it turns out, it made us a better team," Taft Coach Doug Magorien said. "Looking at some of the teams in our bracket, it's like, 'Oh my.' "

Taft was also fit to be dyed.

Before the match, several members of the team colored their hair blond in a show of team unity.

"I was skeptical of it at first," Magorien said. "But I think the intention was to show the dedication level."

Brandon Brown delivered 13 kills and Bryan Capper added nine for Taft, which won its first championship since 1990.

Top-seeded Monroe (16-1) reached the championship with a scrappy defense, but failed to pick up numerous kills Friday and had trouble with Taft's jump servers.

Monroe outside hitters Razell Loveria and Chito Lobregas, normally two of the more dependable players, had only eight and seven kills respectively.

Middle blocker Jose Sanchez had seven blocks, but only six kills for the Vikings.

"They were on tonight," Monroe Coach Bob Berrenson said of the Toreadors. "They played great."

Kennedy def. Hamilton, 15-7, 15-4, 15-12--Andrew Choy began the season as a setter and, good thing for Kennedy, he finished it as an outside hitter.

Choy had 20 kills and helped lead the Golden Cougars to the City Division boys' volleyball title at Cal State Northridge.

Choy, a senior, was moved to outside hitter less than a month ago to provide more offensive punch. It worked.

On the way to winning their first championship, the top-seeded Golden Cougars (9-8) did not lose a game in four playoff matches, with much of the credit going to a revamped offense that finally started to click.

"I didn't think it would make a difference at first," Choy said.

"Toward the beginning of the playoffs, we just started getting it together."

With the exception of middle blocker Sterling Brown, who finished with 19 kills, second-seeded Hamilton (11-6) failed to develop any offensive consistency.

"Everything in the middle was there, but we couldn't get it there because we were passing balls off the net," Hamilton Coach Dimone Watson said.

On this night, nobody could match Choy, who had 17 kills after the first two games.

"He was just playing out of his mind," said Kennedy Coach Mike Stanton, who has been coaching at Kennedy since 1976. "It's like a payday for putting in all those hours."

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