MHS volleyball — James Havandi

MHS senior James Havandi scores a point in the second set.

A quintet of Malibu High Sharks boys volleyball players received Citrus Coast League honors earlier this month. 

Junior George Roth was named to the league’s first team, while sophomore Liam Moore and senior Fisher Hanson were picked for the second team. Sophomore Daniel Rafeedie and senior James Harandi earned honorable mentions.

Sharks coach Derek Saenz said receiving league honors is a good thing for the players because it gives them validation on the volleyball court. 

“The boys improved tremendously, and it was from their buy-in to the program and their willingness to put in more work,” he said. 

Moore, a second-year volleyball player, said the team has improved drastically since his freshman year.

“I feel like this season was very good,” he said. 

Malibu finished the 2019 campaign with a 4-4 record in the Citrus Coast League and a 4-9 overall record. The squad was defeated, 3-0, by the Cathedral of Los Angeles Phantoms on April 27 in the wild card division of the CIF Southern Section Boys Volleyball Championships.

Two of the Citric Coast League honorees, Fisher and Harandi, are set to play men’s volleyball at Moorepark College next spring.

Roth would have liked for Malibu to have advanced in the postseason but noted that, at the beginning of the season, no one expected the squad to make the playoffs at all. The 11th grader said the Sharks believed they could make the playoffs once they downed one of the Citrus Coast League’s best teams. 

“The team’s best performance was when we had a very convincing win against Hueneme,” he recalled. “The team’s communication was better than most games and our outside hitters, Liam and Fisher, did very well.”

Moore said Malibu was able to stymie one of Hueneme’s big hitters.

“We worked on blocking a lot the day before and it was nice to see that training pay off,” he said. “The game itself was very rewarding because it was a close game that went back and forth.”

The 10th grader said the group’s play in an early-season tournament in Orange County also gave them some confidence.

“We won against teams similar to us and we won by a lot of points in one of the games,” Moore said. “Once we saw that we could run an offense and get kills, we started to be more aggressive in practice and games.”

Saenz, the head coach of Malibu’s boys’ and girls’ volleyball teams, said the five players getting recognition aids Sharks volleyball overall.

“It will help the program if it serves as motivation to do better and attract more athletes into the program,” he said. “I’m hopeful that our program will grow in numbers from the success of this season and hope the seniors who are continuing with the sport will be an inspiration to future boys that anything is possible here in Malibu.” 

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