The Santa Monica High School boys volleyball season is underway, launched in part by the traditional varsity-versus-alumni match held last weekend on campus. The varsity prevailed, but not without challenge, and the match was tied 2-2 before this season’s starting Vikings were able to win the tiebreaker fifth game 15-12.
There was a time in the 70s when the Vikings set the standard for CIF boys volleyball, winning Section Championships in ’73, ’74, and ’79. Under current Head Coach Liane Sato, a former player on the U.S. Women’s Olympic Team, the Vikings have rebounded to top form in recent years. Three years ago the boys reached the semi-finals. The next year, 2006, Viking boys’ volleyball won the CIF Division III Section Championship – their first in 27 years. Last year the team rebounded and once again reached the finals, where they finished runner up.
As this year’s boys’ squad takes to the court, it is paced by three returning varsity seniors: Willie Goetz, True Shields, and Greg Wilson. Coach Sato notes: “Willie has come out really strong this year, he will definitely be a dominating force. Greg Wilson is hitting the ball harder than ever.”
Indeed, in the alumni match last weekend, Wilson dominated above the net and kept the alumni players busy on defense all day long. Additional Viking varsity players returning from last year include Matt Silver, Alex McRitchie, Nick Franks, and Mike Black. Players who moved up from last year’s junior varsity to varsity include Harrison Hodgin, Zach Finney, Steven Colaiezzi, Charlie Silverman, and Tres Bogda. Freshmen Julian Hess and David Cline are also on the varsity roster; Cline is the starting setter for the squad.
Intrepid alumni from several eras returned to compete in last Saturday’s match and help sharpen the varsity in time for league battles. They included Gary Sato (’73), Assistant Viking Coach Nguyen Trinh (’84), Sam Blood (’85), Ian Quick (’05), Eddie Schlierman (’05), Mike Campbell (’06), David Frazan (’06), and Ari Feldman (’07). Assistant Viking Coach Pete Barraza also took the court in support of the alumni.