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Volleyball takes Gondolier tournament

Erica Kopf, Staff Writer

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Complication after complication bedeviled the boys’ volleyball squad (5-5 overall, 3-1 league) in their tournament on Saturday, March 21, but they pulled together in the end.

“We played the best we have ever played in all my years on the team,” senior John Poglodzinski said. “I am really proud of our first year players for really stepping it up.”

The boys competed in the Venice’s neutral volleyball tournament. Fourteen schools compete in the annual tournament hosted by the Gondoliers. Uni played in a pool with superstars like Chatsworth (12-3, 0-0) and teams like Marshall (3-2, 0-0),  Beverly Hills (1-7, 0-1) and Nathaniel Narbonne (5-5, 3-1).

Even before the tournament began, the team faced a problem with a missing player, which caused a chain of position shifts. One of their starting middles, senior Keijon Hickmon, was not able to attend on Saturday.

Poglodzinski stepped in for him, leaving his usual position as the outside hitter. New varsity player, junior Hyun Byun, abandoned his position of right side to replace Poglodzinski.

In their first game of the day against Chatsworth, senior Kemji Onye, middle, dislocated his right ring finger during a block in the first set. This knocked him out for the rest of the day and senior Brandon Kumar, from the junior varsity squad, replaced him.

“Our starting middle was injured, but you wouldn’t know that if you watched us playing” senior Gabriel Tabernero, outside hitter, said.

Uni lost to Chatsworth in two sets, but went on to win against Narbonne and Beverly Hills in two sets. Uni lost to Marshall in two sets but still proceded into the playoffs.

The boys played hard and went on to beat the first seed in the tournament, El Camino Real High School. It was a close first set with a final score of 25-23, Uni.

However, the Wildcats did not sweep the conquistadors in two sets; the Wildcats lost the second set with a score of 25-16. In the final tie breaker the boys eased their way to success with a score of 15-7.

This win advanced the Wildcats to the semifinals where they were defeated by a powerful Sylmar High squad (8-4, 3-1) in two sets and were bumped from the tournament.

At the end of the day, the Wildcats finished in third place, and they are now fifth in their Western league division. In addition, Poglodzinski came home with the Most Valuable Player Award.

“We reclaimed our original reputation as an excellent school for volleyball,” senior Stiven Pesjaka, setter, said. “We played hard and we were rewarded with a cool third place spot in one of the toughest tournaments.”

Go support the Wildcats, who are now fifth in their division, at their next home game against the Hamilton Yankees (2-2, 1-2) on Tuesday, April 7 at 4:00 p.m.

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The student news site of University High in Los Angeles, California
Volleyball takes Gondolier tournament