2017-03-16 / Sports
Where Eagles dare
Oak Park boys’ volleyball team is No. 1 in CIF-SS Division 1 poll
“This is the best team we’ve ever had, and I think it’s probably the best team we’ll ever have,” said Adam Quinn, the first-year head coach of the Oak Park High boys’ volleyball team. “If there’s a year for us to be in Division 1 and have a successful year, it’s this year. The timing is right for us.”
It’s not in any celestial calendars, but the stars have aligned for Oak Park, the back-to-back CIF-Southern Section Division 2 boys’ volleyball champions.
Not even the North Star can shine as bright as the promise that radiates from the Eagles’ star-studded lineup.
Every starter is back for Oak Park, which graduated one senior last spring. The Eagles, 9-2 overall, are the top-ranked team in the Division 1 poll.
Adam Parks controls air traffic at setter. Alex Parks excels at outside hitter. Sean Fitzpatrick, a senior, is a sure-handed libero. Seniors Grigory Manyak and Daniel Aviezer patrol the net at middle blocker. Ian Sears, a high-flying senior, lines up at opposite hitter.
Newcomer Tim Baldwin, a junior who played at Newbury Park the past two seasons, has stepped in as the team’s top offensive threat at outside hitter.
“We needed another Woody Cook,” Alex Parks said of Baldwin, referring to the USC sophomore who led Oak Park to a CIF title in 2015. “I think (Baldwin) really fills that position. We really had everything but a complete power hitter, but I think that’s the spot he takes. We know if we set a ball to him, he’ll put it away. He’s the guy that gets us our offensive points.”
Baldwin, who’s played club volleyball for Quinn the past three years, leads the team with 123 kills. The 6-foot-6 Brigham Young University commit is second on the team with 124 serve receptions and third with 18 blocks.
“It’s been the best experience of high school for me so far,” Baldwin said of his new school. “Coming over here to Oak Park, the education is superb. The atmosphere at this school is different than anything I could have imagined. Not only is the team a family, the whole student body is.”
“When you join a group of kids that have been together for a while and really know the game, you get to experience the club scene in a different setting,” Baldwin said. “At the level they play at, it’s a lot more fun and a lot more intense.”
Quinn said the Eagles welcomed Baldwin with open arms.
“He’s very, very talented,” Quinn said. “He has a good head on his shoulders. He probably wants to win more than anybody because he wasn’t with our group last year. That’s the biggest thing he has going to help our team with. It’s not necessarily his volleyball presence, it’s his hunger to win because he hasn’t won CIF.”
Winning consecutive CIF titles can leave a team full of college-bound seniors a tad complacent, but Quinn’s determined to reignite their fire.
“Everybody is hungry to win it,” Quinn said. “For us, it’ll come down to how we serve. If we’re serving aggressive, I think we can beat anybody.”
The Eagles have heard their coach’s war cry. They’re ready to battle in arguably the toughest division in the nation.
“Our coach does a great job of keeping our mindset straight,” Adam Parks said. “It makes us forget about all our other victories so we can focus on our goal that we have.”
“A state championship and a Division 1 title is what we’re hunting this year,” Alex Parks said. “The past CIF titles were an accomplishment, but I definitely think winning Division 1 would be a huge accomplishment.”
Jacob Stoops, Maclain Pfeiffer, Alex Sax, Adam Farnsworth, Ryan Macke and Daniel Grogan are seniors.
Steven Quandt, a junior libero, and Justin Stone, a sophomore opposite, bolster the lineup.
Oak Park opens Coastal Canyon League action at 6 p.m. March 21 on the road against Royal.
Baldwin’s riling up the troops for Coastal Canyon and postseason glory.
“I think I want it more than anybody else,” Baldwin said. “It’s something we compete with. It makes our practices better and it makes our team chemistry better. We’re all trying to out-do each other and out-compete each other, but when we’re playing together, we’re competing together to be better than the other teams.”
For the record
Agoura High football players Morgan Koff and Shane Daftari did not commit to Moorpark College. The information provided to The Acorn in a story published last week was incorrect. Koff and Daftari have not made their college choices yet.
Koff, a senior receiver, led Agoura to its first league title since 1987 when the Chargers captured the Canyon League crown in the fall. Koff hauled in 94 receptions for 1,172 yards and 11 touchdowns. He was league MVP and earned spots on All-CIF and All- Ventura County teams.
Daftari was one of the league’s best two-way linemen this season. He was an All-CIF and All-Canyon selection.