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Prep volleyball: V-ball takes over SCV

All six Foothill teams involved in this weekend’s 22-team tourney

Posted: August 10, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: August 10, 2012 1:55 a.m.

If all goes as planned, this weekend could be the start of a new trend in Santa Clarita Valley sports.

High school volleyball teams throughout the state will flood into the area for the Foothill Invitational High School Tournament, and beginning Friday in a somewhat experimental tournament for the valley.

The Los Angeles Volleyball Academy is working in conjuction with the city of Santa Clarita and William S. Hart Union High School District to host the event with high hopes for significant expansion in the future.

“Eventually the goal is to grow as big as we can because that’s the whole goal is to bring teams and people to the city of Santa Clarita,” said Nabil Mardini, director of operations at LAVA, a collection of youth volleyball clubs serving Southern California.

The tournament, which runs through Sunday, is made up of 22 total teams including all six Foothill League teams and will take place at Golden Valley High, West Ranch High and the Santa Clarita Sports Complex.

Other teams participating are coming from Eagle Rock, Irvine, Fresno, Temecula, Blythe and a few other nearby cities.

Teams from out of town were offered hotel and restaurant discounts.

“They’re coming from up and down the state as well as east all the way to Blythe, so we anticipate some kind of economic impact,” said Russell Sypowicz, a Santa Clarita economic development associate who helped orchestrate the tournament.

Sypowicz said he expects a bigger impact as the event grows in the years to come.

Though organizers said teams from Arizona, Texas and Utah showed interest in competing, scheduling issues prevented any out-of-state teams from making the trip.

“(People are) going to be impressed with this and hopefully word spreads and we go from what I think is a great 22-team tournament to maybe 35 or 40 next year,” said tournament director Brad Lyans, who also coaches at LAVA.

The teams will be split into two divisions with 12 in the more competitive Invitational bracket and 10 in the Festival bracket.

Each team starts by playing five matches in pool play, followed by a few matches in a playoff bracket which will take place on Sunday.

All teams are guaranteed to play at least eight matches.

“Teams haven’t been picked yet for most of the schools, so it’s just a chance to kind of see who your varsity is going to be, who’s going to step up,” said Golden Valley head coach Jeff Cody, whose team will compete in the Festival division.

Cody, who is entering his fourth year as Golden Valley coach, said this is the first offseason tournament his team will play in his tenure.

Other local teams, like West Ranch and Saugus, will field two teams in the tournament, one in each division.

Canyon and Hart are playing exclusively in the Festival division and Valencia is competing in Invitational only.

The Invitational bracket fields strong competition like CIF-Los Angeles City Section power Taft High as well as teams like Notre Dame of Sherman Oaks and Louisville, which compete in a tough Mission League, Lyans said.

“We expect to see good volleyball,” Mardini said. “Most teams are coming with full rosters, so it will be a high level of play.”

Both LAVA and the city have worked together for more than a year to put together a smooth, well-organized summer tournament.

LAVA is one of two volleyball clubs located in the SCV, and it practices locally at Spectrum Club in Valencia.

The club also has locations in Thousand Oaks and North Hollywood, and four of the six Foothill League girls volleyball coaches also work for LAVA.

The only two that don’t are Cody and West Ranch’s Gerrit Maxwell.

In the end, organizers decided the SCV was the best option for this tournament.

“We have probably a heavier concentration of athletes that play out there in Santa Clarita,” Lyans said.

Each of the three tournament sites will have an on-site director keeping track of the day’s results.

To see daily updates of the event, go to



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