Somewhat lost in the ongoing dominance of the Mater Dei boys’ basketball team, or the girls’ soccer program at JSerra, or the swimmers who have set national records and won countless titles for Santa Margarita, has been the enviable
streak built by the Mater Dei boys’ volleyball team.
The Monarchs have won the past four Trinity League titles and 35 straight league matches in that span.
“It’s our preparation,” Mater Dei coach Pat Connolly told the Orange County Register last April. “I’ve also been very fortunate to have great kids and great coaches who treat every match very preciously.”
Mater Dei is led this season by 6-foot-5 senior outside hitter Joey Farney, a first-team all-Trinity League selection last spring. Ryan Green is a solid second option for sure-handed setter David Linkletter.
The Monarchs posted a confidence-building early-season win on Feb. 27, defeating Huntington Beach in five games after being down 2-games-to-1 in the Oilers’ gym.
Huntington Beach came in ranked No. 4 in Orange County and Mater Dei No. 6 by OC Varsity.
“Beating Huntington in a fifth set is just huge for us right now,” Farney told the Daily Pilot. “It gives us a lot of mental focus and strength.”
Servite was ranked No. 5 at the end of February, right between Mater Dei and Huntington Brach, setting up an interesting Trinity League opener on March 15 at Servite.
The Friars were the last team to beat the Monarchs in a Trinity League match, a four-game victory on April 16, 2015 at Mater Dei.
Since then, the Monarchs have won eight straight matches and 23 of 27 games against the Friars, a streak that includes seven league matches and a best-of-three match at the Redondo tournament in 2016.
Servite is led by its own returning first-team all-league selection in Chris Morikawa, a versatile opposite hitter who can also set, dig and block as well as any player in the league.
Servite made noise in the opening month of the season by reaching the final of the ultra-competitive Redondo tournament.
The Friars posted best-of-three wins against Calabasas (2-1), San Pedro (2-0), Peninsula (2-1), Thousand Oaks (2-0), Tesoro (2-0) and Newbury Park (2-0) before losing 2-1 in the finals to Los Alamitos.
Tesoro was ranked No. 3 in Orange County at the end of February and Los Alamitos was ranked No. 7.
Santa Margarita should test both Mater Dei and Servite this season as well.
The Eagles have the third returning first-team all-league pick from last season in senior setter Shane Suxho, who has signed with USC. Suxho’s father is Donald Suxho, who played for the U.S. at the 2004 and 2012 Summer Olympics.
Suxho has two excellent options off the set in 6-5 sophomore outside hitter Noah Keelin and 6-2 senior outside hitter Evan Geiger, both second-team all-league selections last season.
Santa Margarita opens league play March 18 at Orange Lutheran before traveling to Mater Dei on March 20.
JSerra is also off on the right foot.
The Lions posted one of the surprising wins of the early season when they beat Laguna Beach in three games on the opening day of the Tesoro tournament on Feb. 16. Laguna Beach was ranked No. 10 in Orange County at the end of February.