The Redondo Union boys’ volleyball is off to a great start under first-year head coach Kevin Norman. The Sea Hawks are currently ranked No. 2 in the CIF Southern Section Division 1 boys’ volleyball poll behind Newport Harbor and are headed to Hawaii to play more top competition on the islands.
“I am very excited to be a part of Redondo Union High School volleyball once again,” Norman said. “We have a great group of student athletes that really enjoy playing volleyball and competing at a high level. These guys play for each other as many have grown up playing volleyball together and still even play on the same local club teams, which in turn helps this team's energy.”
Before heading out on their flight to Honolulu, Redondo Union took care of Bay League business Tuesday with an impressive three game sweep of visiting Palos Verdes 25-18, 26-24, 25-15.
"I think today's match was a great test for us to prove that we have the ability and determination to get ourselves out of tough situations even when it doesn't feel the best which is very important at this level," said Redondo Union’s Inaki Bustamante.
Redondo Union improved to 9-1 overall, 2-0 in league. They beat Leuzinger the day before, also in league play.
Bustamante finished with seven kills, four blocks, eight digs and one ace.
Redondo's Matt Iamaleava led the team in kills, blocks with nine and five respectively. Keagan Benson had 28 assists, four kills, three blocks, six digs and two aces. Mark Marolda recorded 12 digs, three assists, two aces.
Norman inherits some experience and that really helps going into the season.
“This year's Sea Hawks have some solid firepower in every position, only losing one varsity player from last year,” Norman said. “We have a mix of seniors and juniors starting this season.”
Starting seniors are Bustamante, outside hitter, and Benson, setter. Juniors make up rest of starting unit, which include Sebastian Rodriguez, outside hitter; Rees Barnett, opposite; Iamaleava, middle blocker; Christian Thomas, middle blocker; and Marolda, libero.
Rodriguez and Iamaleava are committed to Cal State Long Beach and Bustamante to Lewis.
Also seeing playing time are senior Ristin Shebi, outside/opposite and sophomore Max Imberechts, defensive specialist.
Coming back from an injury is senior Gabriel Miranda, who is committed to Stanford, and senior Jackson Nigg, opposite.
“We have been really focused on the details or the process versus just the outcome this season,” Norman said. “Keeping our practices very competitive, and just trying to get better and better every day.”
He continued, “So far we have had a very balanced attack on the pins but are really working on getting our middles even more involved. Volleyball is very much about fundamentals of serving and passing, without those two things not only are you predictable but you are also less likely to defend so we have also been getting as many of those type of reps possible.”
"I think we have the potential to win CIF (Southern Section) and state as long as we continue to work hard and get better at practice,” Benson said.
The process of getting better has to happen quickly because there is “little time off,” according to the coach.
“We are looking forward to this week's start of Bay League competition and the Hawaii Boys Volleyball Invitational in Oahu starting (Thursday) through Saturday,” Norman said.
Norman said their best victory to date was on Feb.28 versus Loyola winning in three sets, 25-23, 25-21, 26-24.
The Sea Hawks’ Barnett led the way with 20 kills, Rodriguez had nine kills. Iamaleava had seven kills on just nine swings, had no errors with six total blocks. Benson had 40 assists, nine digs. Bustamante had 12 digs, six blocks and five kills.
“So far this season our team has been doing well due to our strong team chemistry on the court,” Marolda said.
“We are an extremely cohesive team due to the fact that we all played together last year and are really good friends off the court. If we keep playing like we have in the last few games, I believe we will be unstoppable.”