BOYS VOLLEYBALL PREVIEW: Lancers looking forward to challenge of competing in higher division


Summer Sueki

The boys volleyball team celebrates a point against Cerritos on Thursday, March 9, in the Sunny Hills gym. After losing the first set, the Lancers bounced back and swept the next three to win, 19-25, 25-20, 25-18 and 26-24.

Coaches: Albert Soliguen (head coach), Victoria Guillory (assistant coach)

Top Returning Players: Ryan Axe (12), Nathan Casasola (12), Logan Filadelfia (12), Ryan Mesnik (11), Owen Taylor (12), Payton Yang (10)

Top Newcomers: Augustine Cho (10), Jake Sueki (9)

Last Season: The Lancers won the CIF-SS Division 5 championship and went undefeated in the Freeway League, ending the 2021-2022 season with an overall record of 24-6.

Outlook: The boys volleyball team dominated the Freeway League the past two seasons, taking first place over Troy and Sonora, and this season, the players look forward to competing at a higher division.  

“Everyone wants to win the Freeway League championship again for the third time in a row, so we’re looking for a three-peat,” Soliguen said. “Another goal is to win the Division 3 CIF championship.”

In line with CIF guidelines, the team moved up two divisions since it won the Division 5 title last season.

So far, the players’ biggest challenge has been rebuilding chemistry after last year’s seniors graduated, the head coach said.

“It’s hard to come into this season and create your own history,” he said. “Overall, the hardest challenges are accomplishing another Freeway League championship and another CIF championship.”

Outside hitter Casasola said the team is focusing  on getting used to each other’s different playing styles.

“One thing the team is having a rough time is our hitting errors,” the senior said. “We already have outstanding defense, and now we need to work on polishing our offensive capabilities.” 

During practices, the team continually tries out different strategies, such as combination sets.

I like to have my hitters understand how to change the tempo of the game and place shots in different areas of the court,” Soliguen said. “I typically analyze our previous games and use them as a basis to adjust our practices with specific drills, individual or partner work, ball control and team play.”

Libero Sueki said he is confident the team can accomplish a three-peat this year with its current skills.

“Everyone is putting in so much time and effort to try and become as strong as possible,” the team’s newcomer said. “Coach Albert has been keeping us disciplined and strong to try and recreate last year’s success.”

To ensure that the team remains focused this season, Soliguen had players set personal goals. During preseason, the head coach also scheduled the Lancers to take on many competitive schools.

We’ve played many tough teams in our division and had come out on top,” he said. “Some notable games include beating teams like Kennedy, Cerritos and [defeating] other teams from tournaments like [victories over] Northwood, Capo Valley and Portola.”

The Lancers finished their preseason with a 12-3 record heading into their first league match at home today against Fullerton at 4:30 p.m.