Thirty-two of the country’s best high school boys’ volleyball programs battled it out in the Best of the West tournament hosted by Poway High School in Poway, Calif., March 14-15. Played in four gyms scattered about Poway and San Diego, the annual tournament often serves as a preview to the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) Division I tournament. This year, in addition to the the best California teams, Best of the West featured teams from Arizona and Hawaii and even one from New York (Victor High School, the reigning DII state champs).
Huntington Beach High School, the 2013 CIF Division I Champs, walked away with the gold division crown after sweeping every opponent in pool play and all four of its tournament matches. Led by senior BYU recruit Brenden Sander and junior Long Beach State recruit TJ DeFalco, the Oilers won the final over Buchanan High School of Clovis, Calif., 25-23, 25-22.
According to the Huntington Beach boys’ volleyball website, a Best of the West finalist has either reached or won its CIF Divisional final each year since 2007, so the win was a good sign for the Oilers as they look to defend their championship later on this spring.
Powerhouse Hawaii team Punahou, featuring USC recruit Larry Tuileta and Sacred Heart recruit Trent Thompson, on the other hand, was stopped short in the quarterfinals by Corona Del Mar. The match went to three with CDM prevailing 21-25, 25-14, 15-7.
Victor finished third in the silver bracket, falling to eventual runner-up Servite (Anaheim, Calif.) in the semis and then defeating Valencia (Santa Clarita, Calif.) in the third-place match. Westlake (Westlake Village, Calif.) took the top spot in the silver division.
Sander, Tuileta, and Buchanan’s Patrick Gasman, a 6'9" junior middle/opposite, earned spots on the all-tournament team.
Originally published in June 2014