Boys’ volleyball has officially wrapped up in the Santa Clarita Valley. This season included one of the best postseasons for the area in recent years with three teams winning playoff games, including Hart, the CIF Southern Section Division 4 champs.
Golden Valley and Trinity sparked life into their programs while Canyon and West Ranch’s young rosters gained a ton of experience.
Here’s the all-league selections along with a roundup of the 2023 season:
Foothill League Player of the Year: Owen Douphner, senior, Hart
Jacob Navarro, senior, Golden Valley
Ryan Ko, senior, Golden Valley
Isaac Kim, senior, Hart
Hank Kaufman, senior, Hart
Taylor Phipps, senior, Saugus
Kristianu Untalan, senior, Valencia
Jarek Pascua, junior, Valencia
Noah Douphner, sophomore, West Ranch
James Audette Jr., sophomore, Canyon
Oliver Boton, junior, Golden Valley
Tanner Andrew, junior, Hart
Brandon Derham, senior, Hart
Landon Cookston, junior, Saugus
Dane Ricks, junior, Valencia
Nathan Willis, junior, Valencia
Stuart Soule, senior, West Ranch
Lincoln Phillips, senior, Canyon
Riley Humphrey, junior, Castaic
Peter Hall, junior, Golden Valley
Gabe Stokes, senior, Hart
Eli Hanamaikai, senior, Saugus
Zack Saddler, senior, Valencia
Jackson Manansala, sophomore, West Ranch
Hart’s magical season ends in regionals
The boys’ volleyball CIF crown returned to the SCV for the first time in 16 years after the Hart Indians completed a sweep of the El Dorado Silver Hawks.
Hart improved in each match throughout its playoff run. The lopsided scores jumped the team up to the CIF Division 2 SoCal Regional Tournament, where its season officially ended at the hands of the Torrey Pines Falcons, the eventual SoCal Regional runners-up .
Outside hitter Owen Douphner won Foothill League Player of the Year to the surprise of no one, while five other players were honored on the all-league team. Setter Tanner Andrew led the offense while relying on libero Isaac Kim in the back row all season.
Hart won the Foothill League for the first time in 30 years after going undefeated in league play.
The Indians opened the playoffs with a tough 3-1 win over Simi Valley followed by difficult road wins at Woodbridge and Quartz Hill. However, Hart’s hot streak would not be cooled down as the Indians won in straight sets in the section semifinals and finals. The team finished the year 32-6 and had four separate win streaks of six or more matches.
Douphner and teammate Hank Kaufman will continue their playing careers at CSUN in 2024.
Trinity caps off huge second season
The Trinity Knights are somewhat of a new face in boys’ volleyball, but the team managed to reach the section quarterfinals in just its second year as a program.
Head coach Dan Hastings has led the program since its birth and whipped up a playoff team in no time. It was a total team effort around Hastings to reach second place in the Heritage League and win two playoff matches.
Outside hitters Mario Bethke and Jed Browning led the attack with a pair of big swings on the pins. Setters Noah Estanol and David Lim ran the 6-2 offense while freshman Skyler Hillemann anchored the middle spot at the net.
Trinity swept Mesrobian to win the program’s first playoff game and followed it up with a five-set thriller, upsetting the Marshall Eagles.
Bethke and Browning picked up first team honors in the Heritage League while Lim and Estanol were named on the second team.
The Knights’ program will enter its third season in 2024, a year where Hastings hopes for an even larger turnout for the young program as expectations begin to rise at Trinity.
Golden Valley storms through 2023
The Grizzlies tore through the season in a historic year for the program. Golden Valley sparked from the get-go and won 16 of its first 17 matches.
Head coach Sam Hand laid out goals for the team which included a top-three finish in league and, in doing so, playoff experience. The Grizzlies delivered on both, going 8-4 in the Foothill League which earned the group a playoff spot. Golden Valley won its wild-card game at Providence before being taken down in five sets by section quarterfinalist Troy.
The team will graduate both outside hitters in Foothill League first-teamers Ryan Ko and JC Navarro. However, the team will return the bulk of its starters, including setter Oliver Boton and Hand’s trio of standout middles: Nicholas Waldron, Peter Hall and Akshay Karumuri.
The Grizzlies finished with 21 wins on the year, more victories than the program had won in the previous five years combined.
Now, with a big 2024 senior class, Hand will look to keep the standard’s high and the program on the incline.
Another year, another strong Valencia season
The Vikings returned all but one player from 2022 and showed it this season. Valencia posted another strong season after going 22-16, but with an earlier-than-expected playoff exit.
The team was only beat in straight sets in a best-of-five match twice, with both losses coming in the first three matches of the year.
Valencia bounced back from a 2-6 start to the year and fell just one set short of a co-league title with Hart.
Juniors Jarek Pascua and Dane Ricks led the Vikes offensively in kills while setter Kristianu Untalan fueled the offense. The three and libero Nathan Willis were all honored with all-league selections.
Untalan will graduate along with six other Vikings, but the bulk of Valencia’s pin hitters will return. Head coach Josh Kornegay will have yet another team loaded with strong hitting but has big shoes to fill on the roster with one of his better setters throughout the years in Untalan graduating.
Saugus makes playoffs for first time in six years
The Centurions’ boys’ volleyball program is headed in the right direction. Head coach Kaitlyn Reiner led the team to a 13-16 overall record and back into the playoffs for the first time in six years.
Saugus fell just short of a playoff win in a five-set loss to Downey in the CIF Division 3 wild-card round.
Outside hitter Taylor Phipps led the team’s attack all season and will be one of nine seniors graduating from the team.
The Centurions will return eight varsity players including juniors Landon Cookston and Jeremy De Leon.
West Ranch struggles in off year
The 2023 season was rough for the Wildcats, but the program will be just fine. This season saw the program’s 64-match win streak in league play end, though dozens of injuries plagued the team throughout the year and made it tough for any rotations to gain momentum.
Sophomore Noah Douphner dealt with a back injury all season and was forced to end his year early because of it. The sophomore still earned first-team all-league honors for the second straight year and will likely become the second Douphner to earn Player of the Year in the coming years.
West Ranch saw great years for Stuart Soule and Jackson Manansala, who also both picked up all-league honors.
The team will graduate six seniors, including the anchor of the back row, libero Ryan Park.
Head coach Brandon Johnson will return starters like Douphner, Ryder Riley-Smythe and Caden Soule in 2024 with hopes of retaking the Foothill League throne.
Canyon gains experience
The Cowboys’ young roster got all the experience it could hope for this season. Setter Jimmy Audette picked up all-league honors after running the Canyon offense throughout his sophomore season.
Canyon found rhythm in spurts throughout the season but just couldn’t overcome a 12-match losing streak.
Audette will return next year with hitters Landon Gibson and Gunner Evans for head coach Jeff Cody. The 2023 season was a brief detour after the 2022 season saw Canyon win 22 matches. Cody will aim to get his team back to the top of the Foothill League in 2024.
Castaic notches programs first win
The Coyotes set out to progress as a program this season and succeeded in flying colors.
Castaic won its first Foothill League match, more than tripled its win total from last season and won a consolation bracket at the Bellflower tournament.
The team loaded with juniors will return everyone next season for most of the players’ third straight year on varsity.
Opposite hitter Riley Humphrey led the offense on the right side with other talented hitters like Bash Ramirez, Connor Whitlach, Sonny Collen and Quinn Broadwater adding firepower. Setter Dunstan Luego has run the offense fluidly and will get one more year with his hitters.
The Coyotes will look to keep busy in the offseason, preparing in any way possible to take another big jump in year three.
SCCS building back up
Santa Clarita Christian made some strides in the program’s second season back at the school.
The team won nine matches and overcame a 0-5 start to finish 9-11 on the year.
The Cardinals just missed out on a playoff spot in head coach Natalie Collins’ first year with the program. Setter Carter Aispuro will graduate alongside hitters Manny Yarbrough and Landon Hermanson.
Collins will return 10 players in 2024, including junior all-leaguers Ryan Barczak and Will Allen, while Cy Mitchell, Eli Duhm and Rylan Starr will also return next year.