There probably isn’t a better location than Hawaii for the start of a new volleyball season.
That’s one reason the Mira Costa, Redondo and Palos Verdes girls volleyball teams will be competing this week in the annual Ann Kang Invitational in Honolulu.
While the scenery will be great for team bonding, things will be tough for the three Bay League teams once they step into the gym for the tournament that starts Thursday and runs through Saturday.
“This is going to be one of the toughest tournaments since I’ve been here,” Mira Costa coach Cam Green said. “Redondo, Palos Verdes, Harvard-Westalke, Sierra Canyon … they’re all tough, they’ve all revamped and will be ready to go this year.
“It is going to be weird to see Redondo and PV so early, but it’s all good. It will raise the level of competition right off the bat. I’m excited for the challenge.”
Mira Costa reached the final of last season’s Ann Kang tournament and lost to Village Christian of Sun Valley.
Last year’s field had a limited number of teams due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Mustangs were one of three non-Hawaii teams.
This is the first year since 2019 that a full field of teams will be attending and spectators will be allowed inside the gym.
Also making the trip from California are Corona del Mar, Edison, Harvard-Westlake, La Jolla Country Day, Santa Margarita and Sierra Canyon. There are several Hawaii teams in the tournament.
“We’re going to get an early test, that’s for sure,” Redondo coach Tommy Chaffins said.
The tournament is a CIF-SS sanctioned event, so the matches will count for the regular-season record.
Redondo won the tournament in 2019, the last time it competed in the event.
It isn’t a surprise that all three area teams are making the trip. All three have a wealth of returning talent.
Junior Charlie Fuerbringer, last season’s Daily Breeze Player of the Year, leads Mira Costa, along with outside hitter Drew Wright. Sophomore outside hitter Kaci DeMaria, who was a first team All-CIF selection) returns for Palos Verdes, and Mele Corral-Blagojevich, who recently committed to Oklahoma, leads a deep Redondo team.
“We have the majority of our main core back and this is probably the best team I’ve had since I’ve been here,” Green said. “Redondo is always going to be tough, PV probably has its best team they’ve had. It is going to be a handful.”
Mira Costa went undefeated in the Bay League last season, followed in the standings by PV and Redondo. The Sea Kings advanced to the CIF-SS Division 2 semifinals and the Mustangs lost to Marymount in the CIF-SS Division 1 semifinals and CIF State Open Division regional semifinals.
Redondo lost in five sets in its opening-round CIF-SS match against Harvard-Westlake.
“I’m really confident that this is the deepest league this year,” Chaffins said of the Bay League. “Three teams in a 6-7 mile radius and there is a wealth of players, and I think we’re going to show how crazy deep it is and that the South Bay is kind of the volleyball mecca.”