The day belonged to South Bay athletes, but a duo with local ties was among the finalists at the Amateur Athletic Union’s (AAU) Southern Pacific Beach Volleyball Championships on Sunday in Hermosa Beach.
In the championship match of the boys 14U division, Pacific Palisades resident Matt Douglas and partner Will Bantle lost to Blake Markland of Manhattan Beach and Tanner Smith of Hermosa Beach, 28-23, in the gold medal match.
South Bay duos won five of the six divisions played, but Douglas and Bantle enjoyed quite a run. Last year, Douglas was the setter on St. Matthew's seventh-grade volleyball team that made the Delphic League finals. In 2009, he played on the Palisades Patriots, the Palisades Pony Baseball Association's 12-year-old all-star team that advanced to the Set 16 at the annual 104-team national tournament in Cooperstown, New York.
Bantle played on the Palisades Waves, a local 11-year-old all-star baseball team that won the La Canada Splash last June. As a sixth-grader he also won the flag football Veterans Day Tournament in Westwood with the Corpus Christi team.
Kyle Jasuta and Trevor Liu, both of Manhattan Beach, finished third in the 14U division to earn bronze medals.
In the girls’ 14U division, Manhattan Beach natives Katie Barkley and Emma Smith took the gold by defeating Huntington Beach duo Olivia Kocsis and Cait O’Connell. Ashley Anselmo and Gianna Genova of Manhattan Beach, took the bronze.
In the boys’ 12U division, Luke Grafton and Dane Johnson showed off more of the South Bay’s volleyball prowess by capturing the gold medal. The Manhattan Beach partners beat Claremont natives Johnny Abrolet and Christian Settles in the final.
The South Bay ruled again in the girls’ 12U division as Presley Forbes of Manhattan Beach and Sunny Villapando of Hermosa Beach beat the Manhattan Beach duo of Lauren Kelly and Pippa Monk in the finals. Devon Chang of Manhattan Beach and Milan Stokes of Long Beach took the bronze.
In the boys’ 10U division, Johnny Anselmo of Manhattan Beach and Sebastian Rodriguez of Hermosa Beach won gold with their championship match victory over the Manhattan Beach pair of Kyle Johnson and Jake Wall.
In the girls’ 10U division, Mikayla Crossley of La Palma and Jaclyn Sanchez of Huntington Beach claimed gold. Manhattan Beach duo Lindsey Kelly and Ivy Stevens finished with silver.
The girls' 16U division finished off the tournament as the only final of the day without an all South Bay team—Kristie Hewko of Tustin and Sarah Metcalfe of Huntington Beach defeated Christian Jones of Lakewood and Lan Nguyen of Manhattan Beach in the final.
The AAU Girls' High School Beach Volleyball Championships will be played Sunday, June 5, at Will Rogers State Beach.