Randy Angel

Locals volleyball players excel at California Regional Championships

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Lea Ungar smashes the ball during the final match at the AAU California Regional Beach Volleyball Championships in Hermosa Beach. She and teammate Lily Snyder enjoyed a silver medals performance. Photo by Andy Wolf/sportzphotos@gmail.com

by Randy Angel

After helping Mira Costa win the IBVL State Championship (Interscholastic Beach Volleyball Championships), Lily Snyder and Lea Ungar kept their momentum going Sunday, placing second in the Girls 18U division at the AAU California Regional Beach Volleyball Championships presented by Tropic Swimwear held in Hermosa Beach.

Although the local duo fell to the San Diego tandem of Charlie Ekstrom and Ilihia Huddleston in the finals, Snyder and Ungar qualified for the West Coast AAU Junior Olympic Games, to be held July 19-22 in Santa Monica.

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Including Snyder and Ungar, the South Bay had 28 medalists in the highly competitive Regional tournament.

“We have seen increases in athletes not only participating in beach volleyball, but choosing to prioritize beach volleyball over indoor volleyball and compete all season without conflicts,” said Gino Grajeda, AAU Beach Volleyball Commissioner and Southern Pacific Volleyball Committee President. “Although we would like to see athletes compete in a variety of sports and disciplines, the reasons include the enjoyment of the game and the rise in club, high school (IBVL) and intercollegiate (NCAA) beach volleyball.”

The Hermosa Beach duo of Caitlin Kyle and Batia Rothstein placed third in the Girls 16. The South Bay also  produced champions in the remaining age divisions.

In the Girls 14U competition, Mele Blagojevich (Redondo Beach) and Zoe Morales (Hermosa Beach) earned spots in the Junior Olympic Games and Best of the Beach tournaments with their championship.

The duo defeated Manhattan Beach’s Kiley Keating and Katherine Jester in the finals. The teams of Catherine Maffei (Hermosa Beach)/Cat Zolkin (Santa Monica) and Hope Sabater (Torrance)/Natalia Hagopian (Laguna Beach) finishing with 3rd-place medals.

In the Girls 12U competition, Katherine Morley (Manhattan Beach) and Charlie Fuerbringer (Hermosa Beach) won gold with a victory over runner-ups Malyssa Cawa (Rancho Palos Verdes) and London Wijay (Porter Ranch).

Redondo Beach’s Summer Suppik and Gianna Tagoa’i (Los Angeles) placed third.

All of the girls mentioned earned spots in the Junior Olympic Games.

The South Bay dominated the Girls 10U and Boys 14U divisions, sweeping the medal presentations.

In the Girls 10U division, Audrey Flannigan (Redondo Beach) and Milly McGee (Manhattan Beach) defeated Amada Dellenbach (Redondo Beach) and Jordan Shelor (Manhattan Beach) in the finals.

Finishing in third place were the Manhattan Beach teams of Zoey Gaelo/Sydney Toumajian and Alexandra Morley/Ava Gordon.

In the Boys 14U division, the Redondo Beach tandem of Riley Norman and Izaac Newman defeated Luke Morley (Manhattan Beach) and Luther Wu (Redondo Beach) in the gold-medal match. The Manhattan Beach combo of Jack Jadon and Jack Davide took third.

The next local AAU beach volleyball competition will be the Isadore B. Dockweiler Open, a Super Regional tournament on July 1 featuring boys and girls 10, 12, 14, 16, 18 division. Girls also have a 15U division.

The same girls divisions will compete in the Junior National Beach Championships July 10-14 in Hermosa Beach, followed by the Junior Olympic Games July 19-22 in Santa Monica (no 10 competition).

For more information and results, visit aaubeach.org.

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