Chatsworth stuns Palisades to take City Section Open Division boys' volleyball title
His newborn baby girl arrived one month early, but the City championship felt right on time for Chatsworth High boys’ volleyball coach Sina Aghassy and his team.
Chatsworth stunned Palisades, 25-18, 25-22, 25-18, on Saturday night at Cal State Northridge to avenge its loss in last year’s Open Division final.
“My daughter [Ariana] was supposed to be born after the finals, but she surprised us two weeks ago so credit to my wife Kristin and my assistant coaches for shouldering the burden and helping make this happen,” Aghassy said after leading the Chancellors to their third City title since he took the reins in 2015.
“Preparation was key… watching film, seeing their habits and waiting a few years for some of those guys to graduate. They’re a great program and they outworked us last year. We didn’t want to let that happen again.”
Returning players had 364 days to stew over their four-set defeat last spring and the memory of having to settle for second place was all the motivation the Chancellors needed to prevent a repeat. Senior captain Blake Pohevitz led the attack with 18 kills, Taj Unuakhalu added eight kills and Chase Dunn had seven. Nate Kim had 42 assists and Jacob Peres had eight digs as Chatsworth forged early leads in each set and answered every Dolphins scoring run.
“We wanted to face the best, it was a collective effort and we played our hearts out,” said Pohevitz, a 6-foot-5 outside hitter whose 16 kills were not enough to swing last year’s final in his team’s favor. “It was fate, but also hundreds of hours of film study. We didn’t want to have regrets this time.”
Both teams graduated key offensive pieces in All-City first-teamers Gus Wibbelsman (Palisades) and CJ Blankenship (Chats-
worth), but James Rockwell returned for the Dolphins along with setter Blake Pecsok, City co-most valuable player with Wibbelsman last season.
On Saturday, however, the Chancellors seemed to anticipate Pecsok’s every move.
“He’s a great player because he’s so instinctive, but we tried to read where he was going with the ball and get blockers over there,” Pohevitz said. “The biggest thing is keeping them from stringing together a lot of points in a row. Easier said than done.”
Chatsworth won its 10th City crown, the most behind Palisades, which has 17. University is third with nine. Chatsworth set the record with four straight upper division titles from 2002 to 2005. It was the Chancellors’ third straight finals appearance. They beat West Valley League rival Woodland Hills Taft in four sets in 2021.
The Division I final also featured a rematch, with No. 1 Carson beating No. 3 Marshall 25-22, 17-25, 25-21, 25-17 to repeat after needing five sets to win last spring. Julian Toledo had 15 kills and Jason Hernandez added 17 digs and four aces for the Colts.
Earlier in the day, South Gate captured the Division II title—its first —in four sets over Verdugo Hills. Rancho Dominguez beat Valley Academy of Arts and Sciences in four sets to win Division III. Elizabeth Learning Center outlasted Maywood CES in five sets in the Division IV final and Westchester swept East Valley to take Division V, the Comets’ fifth crown and first since 2010.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.