SPORTS: Wong-Orantes falls; Griffin frosh impress, Travel softball nationals, and Shetlanders to “World Series”
Today we cover the gamut of sports levels from the top international levels to the small fry of Shetland baseball. Let’s begin with the adults first.
ALUMNI: Wong-Orantes and US Women fall to Serbia
The No. 1 ranked US women’s volleyball team, captained by former Los Al star Justine Wong-Orantes (LAHS ’14), will not be winning their fourth consecutive FIVB Volleyball Nations League title after falling to Serbia in the VNL quarterfinals.
The Americans entered the tournament as the top-ranked team and won the first two games but allowed Serbia, the defending world champions to come back and win the hard-fought match 3-2 (29-27, 25-23, 20-25, 20-25, 15-13).Wong-Orantes had ten digs
The U.S. Women are the only champions that VNL has had since it was introduced in 2018 to replace the FIVB Grand Prix. They were the top-ranked team in the tourney, but because the host country gets the top seed in the Final Round, Türkey, which finished seventh, played No. 8 Thailand in its first match. This forced the US Women to match up against Serbia. The U.S. Women beat Serbia 3-0 (25-17, 33-31, 25-16) in a preliminary round match on June 30 in Canada.
GRIFFIN FOOTBALL: Summer Passing season ends, on to the Fall season
The summer 7v7 passing season ended this weekend with the Griffins turning in a strong showing at the Mission Viejo tourney primarily using an very underclass line-up. Among the incoming freshmen who saw plenty of playing time were quarterback Jaden O’Neal, running back Jerod Terry Jr., and receiver Ja’Myron Bake. All not only turned in strong showings on the field, they showed strong entrepreneurial and marketing skills with their twitter feeds.
O’Neal got his chance to lead the Griffins because returning starter Malachi Nelson (the No. 2 ranked QB in the country by some websites) was back in Bradenton, Florida taking home the MVP honors as he led Team West to a 48-20 win over Team East at the UA (Under Armour) Next Future 50 7-on-7 All-Star Game on Saturday. Nelson led his team to 20 points before giving way to other top quarterbacks.
The Griffins added another transfer student in junior defensive lineman T.A. Cunningham, a top prospect from the class of 2024 who played last season in Georgia. The 6-foot-6, 265-pound Cunningham is the top-rated defensive lineman in the nation per the 247 Sports website, and reportedly has 58 scholarship offers, including Georgia, Oklahoma, Texas A & M, Michigan, USC and UCLA. Here is the OC Register’s report.
With passing season over, the Griffins next look forward to their “real football” season opener on August 19 in Bakersfield.
SOFTBALL: Many Griffins playing in top travel ball national championships this weekend
The Travel Softball season comes to a head this week with the start of the Premier Girls Fastpitch (PGF) National Championships on Friday in Huntington Beach, Fountain Valley, Irvine, Anaheim and Yorba Linda. The 16s and 18s take the stage this coming weekend with the younger brackets beginning next week. Opening ceremonies will be at Huntington Beach Sports Complex at central Park, and the championship games at Irvine’s Bill Barber Field.
The PGF Nationals is a first class operation that is one part national championships and the other part the super college recruiting event of the year. All the games are streamed and the national title games are broadcast on Fox Sports West (now Bally) and tape-delayed ESPNU.
Many local girls will be competing – especially as part of the Wildcats softball club, which was started by Los Al softball coach Rob Weil last year. Weil’s U18 roster includes many Los Al players who led the Griffins to the CIF championship game in May, including all-county players Taylor Johnson (committed to University of San Diego) and Taryn Clements (Santa Clara).
YOUTH BASEBALL: LAYB youngsters advances to Shetland World Series
The Los Al Youth Baseball (LAYB) Shetland All-Stars reached the championship game of the Shetland Super Regionals in West Covina. The local Shetlanders (ages 5 and 6) opened the tourney with win over Corona and North Valley before falling to West Covina in the championship game. Both teams will move on to this week’s Shetland World Series in Simi Valley.
Locally, it was a short, tough weekend for the LAYB Mustang All-Stars as they fell in their first two games in The Mustang Super Regional affair which they hosted at the LAYB Fields at The base this weekend. The tourney concludes today and tomorrow, with the winner advancing to next week’s Zone championship – also hosted by Los Alamitos.