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Schellenberg Has Finishing Touch

June 30, 2005|Peter Yoon | Times Staff Writer

The Los Angeles Loyola volleyball team needed a leader, and C.J. Schellenberg knew it.

After a tough loss to Manhattan Beach Mira Costa late in the season, Schellenberg pulled the team together for a talk.

The Cubs had won consecutive Southern Section Division I titles, but Schellenberg was the only returning starter. With the playoffs about to begin, he feared his teammates lacked the confidence to succeed.

"We talked about how nobody expected us to win the title this year," Schellenberg said. "It seemed like we were starting to believe that too, but I told everyone that we needed to put our minds to it. I think it changed everyone's attitude."

Loyola didn't lose after that, completing a nine-match winning streak that culminated with a redeeming victory over Mira Costa in the section final.

Schellenberg backed up his off-court leadership by elevating his play on the court. He averaged 11.5 kills and three blocks a game, then raised that to 15.25 and 3.75 in the playoffs. He had a team-best 17 kills and nine digs in the four-game championship match.

"I wasn't surprised by our success," said Schellenberg, The Times' boys' volleyball player of the year, who has signed with USC. "I always thought we had potential. We had talent, of course, but not nearly as much as other teams. We just had more heart."

If Schellenberg helped change the character of the team, it's because Coach Michael Boehle instilled that ability in him at the start of the season. Boehle said his team was a longshot for the title, but he figured that if he could get Schellenberg to become a team leader, the Cubs' chances would improve.

Boehle pulled his senior leader aside after an early-season practice and presented his theory.

"I told him that I don't want the team to feel like winning is everything," Boehle said. "But I thought he should let them know how hard work can pay off."

Honors are piling up for Schellenberg. He was selected Southern Section Division I player of the year and Volleyball magazine chose him the national high school player of the year.

Most will point to his height, 6 feet 7, as the main factor in his ability to dominate a match, but he is also left-handed.

"It's so hard for blockers to figure out a lefty," Boehle said. "The balls come from different angles, and it can take time to adjust."

But it's his attitude, Boehle said, that separates Schellenberg even further.

"He never cared about his individual stats or anything like that," Boehle said. "He told me, 'Coach, what matters to me is winning the finals.' "

Schellenberg was on Loyola's previous championship teams, but said this year's title topped the others because nobody expected the Cubs to pull it off.

"That was the best part about it," Schellenberg said. "I guess we weren't as bad as everyone made us out to be."





Gavin Christensen, L.B. Wilson; Sr.; 6-5; OH

All-Southern Section Division I selection had 557 kills and 71 blocks, including 76 kills in three playoff matches. Signed with Long Beach State.

Brett Perrine, Newport Harbor; Sr.; 6-6; OH

A dominant force at the net for the two-time Sea View League champions, Perrine has signed with UCLA after leading the Sailors to the Division I quarterfinals.

Tom Pestolesi, Edison; Jr.; 6-4; OH

Team leader in kills was key cog in Edison's jump from last to first in the Sunset League. Led the Chargers to Southern Section semifinals for the first time since 1990.

Matt Rawson, Mira Costa; Sr.; 6-8; MB

Headed to Hawaii after leading the Mustangs to a 33-2 season and into the Division I final. Finished with a team-best 302 kills and 86 blocks.

C.J. Schellenberg, Loyola; Sr.; 6-7; OPP

Division I player of the year was chosen national player of the year by Volleyball magazine after leading Cubs to third consecutive Division I title.

Matt Wade, Mira Costa; Sr.; 6-5; S

UCLA-bound Wade was among the most versatile players in the Southland with the rare combination of a setter's soft hands and a blocker's height.

Coach of the Year: Michael Boehle, Loyola

It was supposed to be a down year for the Cubs, who lost five starters from their 2004 championship team, but Boehle convinced the players they could win and they responded with a 29-5 record and a third consecutive Division I title. He has a 144-12 career record.



*--* Joe Dykstra, Redondo Jr. 6-4 OH Steven Grgas, Los Alamitos Sr. 6-7 OPP Ian Jackson, Simi Valley Sr. 6-4 OH Andy McGuire, Loyola Jr. 6-0 S Kevin Welch, Corona del Mar Sr. 6-1 OH Cory Yoder, San Clemente Jr. 6-3 OH


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