Though she hasn't competed in her first match at , London Chow has earned as much attention this summer as any Sea Hawk volleyball player.
Chow, 15, a transfer from Palm Springs, and partner Susannah Muno, a Hermosa Beach resident, captured the under-16 division at the recent AAU Junior Olympic championships in New Orleans. The petite 5-6 Chow also took top honors in a power-lifting competition at the event, bench-pressing 82 pounds.
For her efforts, she claimed the tournament's most outstanding player award.
"It was a really good experience and a lot of fun," said Chow, who will be a junior this fall at Redondo. "It was a lot of fun playing against different teams from around the country. We had a lot of fun with it."
She also is anxiously anticipating playing this fall with the highly successful Sea Hawks volleyball team.
"I'm so excited. I've never played on a team this good before," Chow said. "I'm really excited to see where this season takes us."
In addition to the New Orleans event, Chow and Muno recently teamed together to grab a bronze medal at the at Hermosa Beach Pier in July. The pair placed highest among South Bay duos at the event, which featured more than 120 teams from around the country.
Chow said her father Lui deserves much credit for her recent success and her development.
"He cross trains me and it's really helped my play in volleyball," Chow said. "The weightlifting helps me explode on the volleyball court and get to shots quicker. It's really made a difference in my game."
Junior Hermosa Beach Open scheduled for Saturday, Sunday
Beach volleyball players again will converge on the sand at Hermosa Beach Pier this weekend for another affair.
The Junior Hermosa Beach Open, featuring some of the area's top girls and boys' players, will be held Saturday and Sunday. Matches begin at 9 a.m. each day.
"It's a really highly sought after event," said Chris Brown, tournament director. "It's a real prestigious thing, particularly now with beach volleyball being voted in as an NCAA sport. It's really gained a lot of support and college recruiters keep their eyes on it and many of the players competing in it. It's also one of the largest and deepest tournaments in the country."
Players will compete in several age groups, including divisions for under-18, under-16, under-14 and under-12.
Mira Costa's Chris Orenic will be among the players competing in the under-18 division. His will partner with Jackson Bantle of Pacific Palisades for a shot at a championship.
"There is going to be some very good competition out there, but Jackson is very good and I'm looking forward to playing with him," Orenic said. "I do like our chances a lot. I can tell we already have some good chemistry, on and off the volleyball court. So that's a good thing. He's a very good ball-control player. I think we've got a great chance at winning."
Orenic claims gold
Proof Orenic knows a bit about winning—in addition to being a member of the varsity of Costa's successful program—was his recent championship form at the USA Volleyball High Performance Championships in Tucson, Ariz.
Orenic, who will be a senior at Mira Costa this fall, and his partner Michael Mullahey, a Manhattan Beach resident and a senior-to-be at Loyola won a gold medal in the under-19 division, besting teams from across the country.
"It was pretty cool," Orenic said. "Plenty of good competition there, but we played very well."
Panthers excited for upcoming football season
Line play will dictate how successful Peninsula's football team will be this season.
"To me, the most important aspect of your team is your offensive and defensive lines," said Kevin Moen, who will be entering his fourth season as co-head coach with Adam Boyd. "That is one of the question marks with us. But these kids have dedicated themselves to the weight room this summer and we believe it will pay off. They've prepared to come into this season to be physical."
Senior Joey Augello, an All-Bay League lineman last season, is among the returnees who could be a force.
"He'll start both ways," Moen said. "He's a great guy to build around because he's an extremely hard-working kid. He has all of the things you want in your leader."
Augello will get help up front defensively from senior Chris Whitehead and junior Max McHugh, who also will be counted on for help on the offensive line. Whitehead gave the Panthers some good play at tight end.
"(McHugh) started for us on the offensive line as a sophomore and he's a great kid," Moen said. "He will really help us upfront defensively. The same with Chris. We'll definitely rely on both of them."
Senior Tommy Webster, Peninsula's leading tackler last season with 82, will anchor the linebacking play. He will be backed by a good secondary, another strength of the Panthers, Moen said.
"I think our secondary will be pretty deep and athletic," the coach said.
Senior safety Matt Hezlep, also was one of the team's top receivers last season, is one of the top returnees in the secondary. Seniors Okuoma Idah and Jin Matsumoto also are expected to contribute.
Senior safety Matt Hezlep, one of the team’s top receivers last season, is one of the top returnees in the secondary. Seniors Okuoma Idah, Nathan Jo, Belal Awad and Ken Martin also are expected to be key contributors. And, sophomore Ryan Augello, brother of Joey, could play a significant role.
“We’ve got some pretty good depth back there. We’ve got seven or eight guys who can play,” Moen said.
Moen is also excited about the Panthers' ground game. He expects Webster, Idah, Matsumoto and junior Ryan Sawelson to carry the load. Idah led the team in rushing last season with 511 yards and four touchdowns, while Sawelson ran for 201 yards and two scores. But Moen believes they will top those numbers.
"We've got a pretty good group of running backs," Moen said. "Both Ryan and Idah are super athletic and fast. They're very tough runners. They should give our offense and defense a real spark.
"(Idah) is one of the most talented kids you will see. He could be a real threat for us this year. But the running game also will depend on our how well our offense line plays. We don't need a lot of room to run, but we need some. Those guys will provide some holes."
Senior Matt Imwalle will get the nod at quarterback. A backup last season, Imwalle, who also will play in the secondary, made progress over the summer, which should benefit him in the regular season.
"We're hoping he takes the reins and be productive for us," Moen said. "We believe if he can create some production, he can keep defenses honest."
The Panthers also are hoping to improve on last season's 2-8 finish. That came on the heels of an 0-10 run in 2009. But Moen believes better days are ahead.
"These kids are determined to be good," said Moen, who is famously known at Cal and around college football circles as the player who scored the incredible game-winning touchdown on "The Play" against Stanford in 1982.
"We're hoping it all comes together for the kids. We'll start to see how things will develop once they get in pads next week, but they've worked hard up to this point. It's a great time for optimism right now. We had a productive summer and have a highly optimistic attitude with the team this year.
"We have a good group of seniors with a lot of experience and guys who have demonstrated some good ability to compete. We're optimistic that we'll have a good season."