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VALLEY / VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS | HIGH SCHOOL VOLLEYBALL

Call From BYU Was Sweet Treat for Highland's Sorensen

April 20, 2001|MIKE BRESNAHAN

Halloween night last year, the phone rang at the Sorensen household.

Trick or treat buddies? Nah. Trent Sorensen's too old.

A prank call? Not quite, though Sorensen could hardly believe what he was hearing.

On the other line was Carl McGown, Brigham Young University men's volleyball coach, calling to offer Sorensen a scholarship.

Sorensen, a senior at Highland High, was surprised. He had attended summer volleyball camp at BYU for two years but didn't think he caught the eye of McGown.

The 6-foot-7 middle blocker, showing a fair share of composure, said he'd call McGown back after talking with his parents.

Two days later, Sorensen, a Mormon, became the third prominent Highland player in recent years to commit to BYU, joining 1997 NCAA player of the year Ryan Millar and current standout Mac Wilson.

It's elite company, and Sorensen's performance this season despite nagging injuries shows he belongs in it.

Less than a month after signing with BYU, Sorensen tore ligaments in his left ankle while practicing. The injury is aggravated constantly, as is a right-ankle sprain he suffered in February.

His ankles take turns causing problems.

"It depends which one I land on that week," Sorensen said. "It just keeps happening over and over. As soon as I feel one getting better, I'll roll on it."

He was frustrated early in the season, unable to generate a powerful push while hitting or blocking.

"He was getting a little edgy," Highland Coach Tom Jones said. "It was affecting his lateral movement along the net and he was worried it would affect his play this year."

But Sorensen has learned to play with the injuries, and Highland has held steady as one of the top teams in the region.

The Bulldogs (15-4, 5-0 in Golden League play) finished second at the 60-team Las Vegas tournament last week, with the versatile Sorensen leading the way.

"People can't believe Trent plays as well as he does because he's so big, but he sprawls out on the floor and gets digs," Jones said. "If he's not out there, there's a noticeable hole."

*

John Nelson coaches in a shiny, new gym at Crescenta Valley that came with about a $7 million price tag.

But his most priceless victory came Wednesday night in the Arcadia gym.

Nelson guided the Falcons to a victory at Arcadia for the first time since he began the program in 1990.

"I'm sure our guys didn't know that, and I didn't tell them, either," Nelson said.

He doesn't have to tell his players much about their new gym. It speaks for itself.

The first event held there was a March 28 match against Glendale, won by Crescenta Valley in five games.

"I've seen a decent number of gyms and this one is awesome," Nelson said. "I can't believe we get to play in this one every day."

The Falcons (6-4, 4-1) have played well since an 0-3 start and can rely on almost any starter for offense, from middle blocker Anand Vashi to 6-6 opposite hitter Brian Kang.

"The only way we're being successful is by spreading the ball around that much," Nelson said. "There's not one guy that's been carrying us. If they're blocking one guy, it's like, let's go set the other guy for a while. It's been fun."

*

Coach Howard Cahn's eyes hurt.

Every day this week, a new player at Grant has showed up with hair dyed orange to match one of the school colors.

The trend started Monday with All-City middle blocker Mike Charleston. Another player showed up Tuesday with orange hair. Two more on Wednesday. Another on Thursday.

Cahn's response?

"As long as it's not me, I'm OK," he said. "I'll reconsider if it'll cover up my gray."

The Lancers (9-0) play Saturday in the Sylmar tournament. Other strong teams include Chatsworth and Roosevelt, led by 6-8 Raudel De La Riva, a Cal State Northridge recruit.

*

Its Southern Section ranking continues to drop, but Royal's mind-set remains steady.

The Highlanders (15-3) tumbled three spots in two weeks to No. 5 in the Division II rankings, after losing four-game matches against No. 1-ranked Mira Costa and No. 2 Loyola.

"I used to think the rankings were really important, but you've got to play everybody [in the playoffs], especially in our division," said Royal Coach Bob Ferguson, in charge of compiling and submitting the weekly rankings. "There are eight really strong teams in the division. And the other two are solid. It's the best division, and everybody says that.

"It would be nice to be in the top four. I think it's important for us to do well in the Santa Barbara tournament [April 27 and 28]."

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

VOLLEYBALL TOP 10

Rankings of teams in the region

*--*

RK LW School (League) Rec. 1 1 Royal (Marmonte) 15-3 2 2 Highland (Golden) 15-4 3 3 Village Christian (Alpha) 20-2 4 5 Thousand Oaks (Marmonte) 9-3 5 8 Valencia (Foothill) 17-3 6 6 Grant (Sunset Six) 9-0 7 7 Taft (West Valley) 10-1 8 4 Canyon (Foothill) 18-5 9 9 Westlake (Marmonte) 8-5 10 10 Harvard-Westlake (Mission) 6-4

*--*

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