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VALLEY / VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS | HIGH SCHOOL VOLLEYBALL

Grant Has Made Huge Net Gains

April 07, 2001|MIKE BRESNAHAN

Grant High . . . volleyball school?

The Lancers haven't had much success in the set-and-spike department, but that's quickly changing thanks to 6-foot-6 middle blocker Mike Charleston, who has the Lancers (8-0, 5-0 in Sunset League play) approaching their first undefeated regular season.

Charleston, a senior, was a standout in Grant's more prominent sport, basketball, averaging 20.1 points and 10.6 rebounds for the league champion.

Now he's turned his attention to volleyball, much to the chagrin of opponents.

He had 36 kills in a five-game victory over Taft last month and has made Grant a contender.

He almost bypassed volleyball, having to be cajoled into competing by Coach Howard Cahn, who was Charleston's physical education coach in junior high.

"I was all basketball at first," Charleston said. "I had no intent to play volleyball. [Cahn] said, 'If you don't like it, you don't have to play.' I basically had nothing to lose."

Cahn is glad Charleston took a chance.

"He's the best middle [blocker] I've ever had and probably the most competitive player I've ever had," Cahn said. "He just hates to lose. He'll get upset at himself, his teammates. He'll do whatever is needed to win."

Charleston is being recruited by UC Davis and Cal Poly Pomona for basketball and by Cal State Northridge for volleyball. He says his decision will have financial considerations.

"I'm going to help my parents, choosing whatever [school] offers more [of a financial package]," Charleston said. "I love both sports and I can always walk on to the other team if I get a scholarship for a certain sport."

Unlike most players with college-level ability, Charleston has never played club volleyball, opting instead for off-season basketball.

But the athletic ability is there.

"He's got Division I potential," Taft Coach Doug Magorien said. "Potential's always that dangerous word, but he's got the physical tools."

*

The distinction between football and volleyball isn't always well-defined at Alemany.

Jason Lance, a 6-6 middle blocker who also plays tight end, doesn't mind taking one for the team, even if it means taking out the bleachers.

Lance dived for a ball in a match against Loyola and hit his head on a steel leg of the bleachers.

He was down for a few minutes, popped back up and later reentered the match.

"We only have two middles, so he couldn't get hurt," Alemany Coach Jamie Quaglino said. "I told him his head's harder than the metal. He was fine."

An intense player, Lance frequently draws referees' ire by speaking his mind.

"He's gotten a yellow card in just about every game," Quaglino said. "Contrary to a football field, it's a little different on the court."

By the way, Lance kept the ball alive on his dive into the bleachers, and Alemany scored.

*

Village Christian showed it can hang with the big schools last Saturday at the Dos Pueblos tournament.

The Crusaders defeated San Marcos, 15-9, in the first round of the tournament playoffs and nearly upset Santa Monica in the quarterfinals, losing a 14-11 lead and the game, 16-14.

The smallest school in the 29-team tournament, Village Christian defeated Carpinteria, Los Gatos and Oxnard in pool play. The Crusaders lost to Santa Monica, ranked No. 3 in Southern Section Division I, in pool play, 15-4, 15-11.

"Beating a team like San Marcos with their reputation was really a great accomplishment," Coach Bill Schnobrich said. "We had coaches coming out of the stands saying, 'You guys are awesome.' That there was pretty good validation."

Senior Ken Benesh had 52 kills in 10 games and was selected to the all-tournament team for the Crusaders, ranked No. 2 in Division IV.

Valencia also had a strong run at the tournament, drubbing Westlake in the playoffs, 15-0, before losing to Poway, 15-9.

Highland was defeated twice by Westlake in pool play and lost to Brophy (Ariz.) Prep in the first round, 15-12.

Loyola, with most valuable player Derek Otte, won the tournament title for the third consecutive season.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

VOLLEYBALL TOP 10

Rankings of teams in the region

*--*

RK LW School (League) Rec. 1 1 Royal (Marmonte) 15-2 2 4 Village Christian (Alpha) 14-0 3 2 Highland (Golden) 7-1 4 3 Canyon (Foothill) 8-1 5 5 Thousand Oaks (Marmonte) 8-3 6 6 Grant (Sunset Six) 8-0 7 7 Taft (West Valley) 8-1 8 NR Valencia (Foothill) 6-2 9 NR Westlake (Marmonte) 7-4 10 8 Harvard-Westlake (Mission) 6-4

*--*

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