You know you’ve been doing this for a while when you start coming back to the same venues for season-ending events – and it’s a different season.
In late May, in Event # 15 on the “It’s Game Time Somewhere” Tour, I visited Cypress College to take in the spectacle that was the CIF Southern Section Boys Volleyball Championships. Now half a year and 57 events later, there I was again – only this time to witness the distaff side do battle.
While one of the Boys Championships featured a school not too far away from the rustic home office of the IGTS Tour, the Girls Championships went one step further in terms of providing a rooting interest. The featured bout (there’s that boxing influence sneaking in again…) of the day-long volleyball extravaganza was the Division 1AA Championship match-up between heavily favored Long Beach Polytechnic High School and Redondo Union High School.
Long Beach Poly has spent a good bit of time this season at #1 in the MaxPreps Freeman Rankings. Not #1 in SoCal. Not #1 in the state of California. No, we’re talking #1 in the entire U.S. of A. Their appearance in the title game was, how shall I say it…not exactly breaking news. In fact, they had lost just one game in their combined play-off matches prior to the finals – and that by a score of 25 to 23. So they’re fairly good.
…Continued from the previous post.
I like to think that I know my way around a volleyball court. In fact, I’ve got a Certificate Of Recognition kicking around somewhere that identifies me as a member of an Ithaca College co-rec intramural championship team. I don’t recall the year, or what our team name was, but this I do remember: Our girls won it for us.
In classic co-rec volleyball, all of the tall goofy guys constantly reaching over the net trying to block the shot of the opposing tall goofy guys pretty much cancel each other out. The girls who do the digging, passing and setting are really the deciding factor. My team had Daryl and Donna, both varsity athletes in other women’s sports. As long as we guys didn’t screw it up, we were destined for all the glory and perks that come with a co-rec intramural championship. I did mention the Certificate, didn’t I?
I thought about that as I sat in USC’s Galen Center watching the Women of Troy volleyball team warm up prior to their match against the Stanford Cardinal, the top-ranked team in the nation. And I wondered how many guys were wandering around with Certificates of Recognition thanks to these girls.
From a purely “live and die with my team” standpoint, it’s been a tough year for this Sports Fan. Who would have thought that the Anaheim Angels posting a losing record and being eliminated from post-season play in roughly mid-June would have been the second worst thing to afflict my fan-dom in 2010?
I’m speaking of course of the trumped-up charges against the USC football program, and the egregious sanctions that followed. And the beginning of the, sigh, Kiffen years (note the avoidance of the word “era”, which otherwise signifies lengthiness).
After back-to-back Trojan losses on opponent field goals that sailed through the uprights as time expired, I needed a little boost – some sort of pick me up. I decided to go visit the trophies.
Me: “Honey, how about a high school volleyball championship double-header?”
The Bird: “Oh what the hell – why not.”
I took that as a ringing endorsement of the idea, and off we went to the CIF Southern Section Championships. Yesterday’s report from the front line of sports featured the loud and rowdy Division 4 title game won by El Segundo over Torrance South, and after a quick bite we were back at Cypress College for The Big One – the Division 1 championship match.
California is a big state. And in fact, many Californians think it’s too big to be governed as one entity – too vast a geographic area, too diverse a population and economy. And so it was with Solomon-esque wisdom that the governing body of high school sports in the Golden State, the California Interscholastic Federation, created ten regional Sections, each independent of the others. Excluding the major metropolitan areas of San Francisco, Oakland, Los Angeles and San Diego, which each have their own Sections for major sports like football and basketball, these Sections cover geographic areas that are more or less the equivalent of a separate state. So while for a handful of sports there is a California State Championship game or meet, for the majority of high school athletes, the pinnacle of success is a Section Championship.
They really tried. They honestly did. When the NCAA was faced with the fact that the Men’s Volleyball Championships would be held on the home court of one of the final four teams, they forged ahead and did what they would normally do at a truly neutral site. They allocated equal seating to fans of each of the four finalists. They filmed and showed on the videoboard promos from each team – separately and equally. They held their breath. But this is Stanford, and they don’t do neutrality well.