By Rick Assad
One of the two boys’ volleyball teams has a longtime coach while the other has a first-year head man.
Even so, both coaches are looking to have outstanding seasons and each has a good possibility of being successful in this endeavor.
Burroughs High has been a Pacific League behemoth for many years under Joel Brinton, the coach, and it seems many of the pieces are still in place for another colossal campaign after the Bears reached the CIF Southern Section Division II quarterfinals in 2021.
The Bears began that postseason run with a bye, but then swept Valencia 3-0 before being likewise swept by Huntington Beach 3-0 in the quarters.
“My goal for the team is to get better and improve each game and learn from that,” Brinton said. “Every year we want to win the league title and I think we’re capable of that.”
The Bears, who went 8-2 in all matches and 4-0 in league play in a condensed schedule because of COVID-19 last season, are loaded with talent and they include Justin Burras and Vinny Harris, who are the floor leaders and the key point-providers.
When Burras and Harris are in true form, the opponent is in real trouble because this pair can score points in bunches.
Other key members of the squad include Pucky Lawrence, Jeremy Lapeze, Mark Hopkins and Carlos Tupua-Stiefel.
The rest of the team includes Chris Johnson, Christian Solano, Andrew Ly, Benji Ly, Trent Cantrell, Kyle Truett, Christian Lim, Ethan Coomes, Andy Zeytounian, Isaac Hernandez, Charlie Gerard and Henry Carlin.
James Cowart, who played for Burbank, is in his initial season with the Bulldogs and is also optimistic about the season.
“This is my first year as the head coach and I’m still learning about my team and they’re learning about me,” he said. “We have a good team and I expect them to play hard and work hard and give their best effort.”
The Bulldogs, who went 4-1 in league, qualified for the Division IV playoffs, but lost in the first round to Laguna Hills 3-1.
Thirteen players comprise the squad with three seniors, and they include Justin Marmeto, Dylan Valero and Rodrigo Garcia.
Eight players are juniors, and they partially include outside hitter Taiyo Nakao and libero Ian Villaflor.
These two provide floor leadership, an ability to set up the offense and also putting the ball away for scores and Cowart likes what he sees in these two.
The other juniors are middle blocker Austin Kim, outside hitter Noah Lintag, middle blocker Akash Kodavati, Alex Gevdzhyan, Andy Gezalyan and Maxwell Higginbotham.
These players play solid defense and also contribute on the offensive end and are extremely valuable to the overall success of the team according to Cowart.
A pair of sophomores fill out the team and they include outside hitter Kai Cruz and setter Ryan Viyar.
Likewise, these two, despite being youthful, are important members of the team and can provide offense and leadership and are key cogs to the machine according to Cowart.