Malibu High boys volleyball ranked first in Division 6

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The Malibu Shark boys volleyball team is shown in action during a game against Viewpoint on Feb. 1. Photos by Devon Meyers/TMT.

The Sharks undefeated, and have not lost a single set, in Citrus Coast League play

The Malibu High Sharks boys volleyball team sits atop the CIF Southern Section Division 6 rankings. 

The Sharks, owners of a 14-8 record, are ranked first in poll composed by the CIF Boys Volleyball Committee. 

Being ranked number one, Malibu head coach Derek Saenz said, is cool.

“Its not like your parents saying, ‘Oh you’re amazing,’” he said. “It’s good to achieve.”

Sharks sophomore middle blocker Sebastian Longo said his team is assiduous. 

“We are all truly dedicated to volleyball,” he said, “and we know what must be done to achieve the goals we want, with not giving up until the very end.” 

Following Malibu in the top 10 are Summit, Pete Knight, Lancaster, Gabrielino, Samueli Academy, Ganesha, Lakewood, Wildwood, and St. Anthony. 

Saenz said Malibu has been good, but not great this season. 

“We haven’t won anything yet,” he noted before using the popular play about the life of former U.S. President Alexander Hamilton in an analogy. “It’s like ‘Hamilton.’ You are good enough to be in the room where it happens but you’re not president yet. How do you get to the next step of commanding the room and winning a championship?”

The Sharks begin play in the Chatsworth Boys Volleyball Tournament on Friday with a match against Eagle Rock. Malibu will play six to eight contests during the two-day event.

The volleyball spectacle will feature over 40 teams from across the Los Angeles area. Saenz believes the event will be a good challenge for Malibu. The squad’s eight losses this season have been to talented squads — Monrovia, Vista del Lago, Camarillo, San Marino, Reseda, San Juan Hills, and Harvard-Westlake twice. 

Saenz said Malibu is a fun, confident squad that can compete with teams from bigger schools. 

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The Malibu Shark boys volleyball team is shown in action during a game against Viewpoint on Feb. 1. Photos by Devon Meyers/TMT.

Longo recalled that one of the Sharks’ best performances this season was against Harvard-Westlake.

“Everyone played well and did some amazing things,” he remembered. “It showed us all the small things we must do to be able to beat a team like Harvard-Westlake.” 

Sharks outside hitter Alex Galan, a sophomore, said he and his teammates work to get better daily. 

“The sky is the limit with how good we can get,” he said. “We are athletic enough to win titles. If we put in the work, the results will show.” 

The Sharks have downed Rio Honda Prep, Vista del Lago, Orange Vista, Viewpoint, Oaks Christian, Dana Hills, Centennial, and University Prep Value this season. The team also has an undefeated record against their competition in the Citrus Coast League, so they are atop the league standings. 

In fact, the Sharks have been so dominant that they have not lost a set to league opposition, which includes Channel Islands, Nordhoff, Carpinteria, Hueneme, and Filmore. Malibu beat each team twice. Every win has been 3-0.

Saenz said Malibu played particularly well in its two victories over Channel Islands.

“Those were ones with the biggest crowds,” he said. “We still managed to play well and get wins. Channel Islands is a good, athletic group. Those wins were big confidence boosters.”

The Sharks’ roster includes sophomores Kane Bendler, Taj Menteer, Keegan Cross, Luke Light, and Julian Calvo. The freshman include Dakota Gardner, Hudson Wilcox, Terence Gonzalez, Maxson Chiate, Timur Podgore, Joshua Treptin, Dest Dorigny, Martin Kurial, Lucas Galan, Cohen Superfon, and Madeus Lupo. Junior Nick Shafai and senior Axel Jimenez are also on the squad. 

Saenz said Malibu’s strength is their depth. 

“We are balanced,” he said. “We don’t have a standout player, where if he plays well we win, if he doesn’t we lose. We can move kids around. If someone doesn’t play well that is fine. We don’t rely on one player that much. Everyone is good. Every hitter can score points.”

The Sharks will play at Fillmore on April 9 to begin the second half of their schedule against rival Citrus Coast League squads. The team will hold its alumni game on April 13. At least 12 former Sharks are expected to take the court. 

Saenz said Malibu has skill but is pushing to be more consistent on the court in making winning plays. 

“We are trying to be perfect with attention and effort,” he said. “What part of our team culture helps us win? How to be a better teammate? How do we meet challenges?”