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November 28, 2023
October 26, 2023
Three standout prep volleyball players, — Tread Rosenthal, Caleb Blanchette and Kellan Larson — are starting college early. It’s a trend we’ve seen in women’s volleyball, but this is significant for men’s.
All three will miss their senior years of high school volleyball and other school activities
Rosenthal, a 6-foot-8 product of Mira Costa High School in Manhattan Beach, is already enrolled at Hawaii.
The other two are still in high school this fall and will graduate early to enroll in their respective colleges this spring.
Blanchette, 6-5, is from Brentwood, Tennessee, and will go to USC. The 5-10 Larson goes to Woodbridge High School in Irvine and will go to Long Beach State.
We did a question and answer interview with the three.
When did you start playing volleyball and what motivated you to play the sport?
Blanchette: I started to play volleyball when I was 10 years old because of my older brother. He wanted to learn the sport, so it was something that I was thrown into and I loved it!
Larson: I started playing volleyball when I was 10 years old. I originally played baseball like my two older brothers but fell in love with volleyball, courtesy of my older sister.
Rosenthal: I started playing beach volleyball in my backyard when I was eight. Then when I was 11, I started playing indoor. My friends and I made a team just for fun. Watching my sisters play convinced me to start playing for real instead of just for fun.
Why was the club you played for a good fit for you (Blanchette played for C2 Attack out of Nashville, Tennessee, Larson played for OCVC and Balboa Bay out of Newport, and Rosenthal played for Manhattan Beach Surf)?
Blanchette: In Tennessee, there are not many options for club volleyball teams, so C2 Attack was my only option. Looking back on it, I would not choose another club in the country because they have been the most supportive group that I could ask for.
Larson: I played for both OCVC and Balboa Bay during my club career, both were vital to my success. They both challenged me and pushed me to be the best player I could be.
Rosenthal: I played for MB Surf. Everyone meshed well and the vibes around the whole team were good. We also all complemented each other pretty well on the court and it was a very fun team to be on all year.
Describe your experience playing with the U19 USA National Team that won a gold medal in Guatemala May 2022.
Blanchette: Being on the national team meant a lot to me because it was unheard of to have a guy from Tennessee on it. I enjoyed the process and learning from a great coaching staff and excellent teammates.
Larson: Winning both international events with USA Volleyball was an incredible experience and opportunity that I will never forget. Traveling internationally and competing while wearing USA on my chest felt like a dream come true and first major step to my ultimate goals, Olympics and pro. Because of these opportunities I’ve met so many new people and built relationships with players from different countries. A moment I’ll never forget is when we won the first Pan Am Cup and we were greeted in the cafeteria area by all the different countries applauding us. Soon after we all got in a huge mosh and celebrated. Of course, the volleyball was amazing but moments like those and the friendships built are the most memorable.
Rosenthal: It’s an amazing feeling to represent your country and wear that flag on your chest. It was even better because I got to do it with many people who I had known for a while. It was great to play with some people I had played with before and others that I might not have been able to play with if it weren’t for the USA program.
What colleges recruited you?
Blanchette: Because of the National Team, I received national attention during my recruiting process. I always wanted to go to California for college, so it was simple to know where I wanted to go.
Larson: I was very fortunate to have different options while being recruited, some of which were: Stanford, UCLA, Princeton, Pepperdine, UCSB and of course Long Beach.
Rosenthal: I had calls with pretty much every team so I kind of had my pick of the litter.
How did you decide?
Blanchette: I chose The University of Southern California because of the elite athletics program and outstanding academics that they provide. It is also in a great location in Southern California where men’s volleyball thrives.
Larson: After what felt like a very long recruiting process, I decided that Long Beach was the best fit for me to accomplish my future goals. The family and culture that the coaches and players have created was a defining factor for me as well.
Rosenthal: The culture and team that they have there is top tier. The coaching staff is also one of, if not, the best in the nation.
When did you decide to graduate early from high school to enroll in your university this upcoming season?
Blanchette: I decided to graduate early because of the academic side of my career. I have one credit left in high school, so there is no reason for me to stay.
Larson: Originally my goal was to play pro somewhere overseas my senior because I feel like in other countries such as France, Italy, Poland, they’re much more advanced than we are from ages 17-24 and getting a year of playing with them was always a huge interest to me. Long story short, I’ve been planning to graduate early since I was around 15. I talked to each college I was seriously considering about this. Once I committed to Long Beach, we tried to discuss a plan but came to realize playing that one year pro was much easier said then done, thus, we decided I’d just come half a year early instead.
Rosenthal: It was a long process and I don’t really remember exactly when I decided but it was more of a continuous conversation between me, my coaches, and my family to decide what to do.
How did this decision to graduate early come up? How did the college coaching staff help you through this process?
Blanchette: My older brother graduated early to attend The George Washington University, so this was an idea for a few years. This is the first time someone has attended the USC men’s volleyball program early, so there are many bumps that we have to work through.
Larson: The Long Beach coaching staff was and has been more than helpful during this process and made it as non-stressful as possible.
Rosenthal: The coaches brought it up to me as a possibility, but after that it was mostly on me to get all the work done.
Describe how playing beach volleyball helped your indoor game.
Blanchette: Beach volleyball has improved my court vision tremendously because of the dependence on seeing the other side of the net.
Larson: I believe playing beach is huge to your overall success as a player. Beach forces you to play every aspect of the game, and you have to hold your own, you can’t rely on someone else to do your job. I originally played beach before I made the transition to indoor and believe it helped tremendously with my ball control.
Rosenthal: Any touch on the ball can help improve your skill and the low impact of beach is great. It also helps you learn every part of the game. Indoor can limit you to what position you play but in the beach you learn to play every position.
What advice would you give to 2026 and 2025 recruits that are just starting the college volleyball recruiting process?
Blanchette: The advice that I would give is to feel out the process as much as possible. There is no rush to commit early and make the wrong decision. Developing relationships with coaches is the most important and learning how they coach and what type of people they are.
Larson: Advice I would give to players being newly recruited is to realize your priorities and what you truly value. Lastly, make a decision for yourself, don’t feel pressured to go somewhere because of someone/something else.
Rosenthal: I think taking your time and not rushing such an important decision is the best thing to do. You need to be 100 percent sure where you want to spend four years of your life or you could regret it. Especially with the changing rule over the number of official visits allowed, I think it is very important to take your time and be smart about where you are going to attend.