The South Pasadena High School varsity boys volleyball team are Rio Hondo League champions on the heels of an eight-game winning streak. Photos by Hongtan Chen.

The South Pasadena varsity boys volleyball squad was crowned Rio Hondo League champions after posting an eight-game winning streak to cap off the season, seven of which were league battles.

The Tigers, 7-1 in league play, bested longtime rival San Marino for the title. The Titans came in a close second, 6-2, with Temple City right on their heels with a record of 5-3. La Cañada came in fourth, 2-6,while Gabrielino brought up last place with the winless record of 0-8.

“Coming into this season I knew it was going to be a different type of season,” Coach Ivy Chew said. “Last year we had all the options from different hitters, setters and defense of players.” This year we were limited to our options when it comes to varsity returners; most would say it was our rebuilding season.”

Most rebuilding teams don’t find themselves in the postseason. They find themselves laying the necessary groundwork to get into future postseasons. But not this squad.

“When most people asked how our season would look like with this team, I said we are a work in progress. These boys worked really hard during the off-season to build themselves to be physically strong for the season and coming into the actual season it was about building the mentality part of the game and working together as a team.”

At the beginning of the season, Chew told her team to expect the unexpected and take it one-game-at-a-time.

“I simply told the boys to walk into league this year and expect the unexpected,” she said during an earlier interview. “Expect that everyone in our league is going to want the title as much as we do, and unexpected, like walking in without any knowledge of what the end result may be for each league game.”

Chew also believed this team was going to excel because it was preparing well. It worked all year to be the best it can be, she said, and as an added bonus, it did have some senior leadership. 

“These boys have been building themselves up mentally and physically to get themselves ready for league,” Chew said at the beginning of the season. “We have both our captains, Addison Hsiao and Dylan Schriebfeder, back and they’re working together so well and that’s going to help this team reach its goal for the season.” In addition to those two seniors, Chew pointed to the returning seniors Paul Pan and Jason Barrientos as important contributors as well as junior Tyler Lieu.

The team had this unusual quality of losing big at the start only to turn it around and win even bigger later on. They did time and time again in tournaments early in the season, such as the Dos Pueblos Tournament or the two-day contest in Camarillo.

This all lead to the Tigers taking a rebuilding season and turning it into a championship season.

“I would say we had our ups and downs, but our downs are what gave us the lessons and experiences to become a better team together,” she said.  “We have overcame a lot of stuff together and that is what makes us strong and be that team that we are today.”

Coach Chew said she is “especially proud” of this collection of volleyballers as she was with her varsity girls team last spring. The boys, she said, like the girls, worked hard for a common goal” To be champions. And that’s what they did..

“I am super proud of this group of guys and of how well they have played this season, but am I surprised at the outcome?,” she asked. “I am not because I knew coming into this season, I knew these boys were hungry to want to win and do well. They have accomplished many goals as a team. I couldn’t have been any prouder of this team.” 

The next step was Tuesday against Arcadia in the first round of the CIF playoffs.

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Steve Whitmore is the editor for the South Pasadena Review. Steve has spent more than four decades as an award-winning print and broadcast journalist with a 16-year stint as the senior media advisor for the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. Steve comes to us from the Keene Sentinel in Keene, New Hampshire, where he covered politics and was a columnist.

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