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Foothill Invitational tourney returns

Posted: July 31, 2013 10:08 p.m.
Updated: July 31, 2013 10:08 p.m.
 

The first year was an experiment. This time around, it should be a polished product.

That’s what organizers of the Foothill Invitational girls volleyball tournament promise of the event this weekend.

The three-day tournament hosted by the Los Angeles Volleyball Academy takes place for the second time beginning today and running through Saturday at various locations in the Santa Clarita Valley.

Twenty-four teams high school teams, including five from the Santa Clarita Valley, will participate in matches at Saugus High, West Ranch High and the Santa Clarita Sports Complex.

LAVA, a network of youth volleyball clubs which includes a location in Valencia, worked with the city of Santa Clarita and local schools to start the event last August. Overall, the reviews were positive.

But although inaugural Foothill Invitational received strong feedback, organizers slightly altered the format and venues of the event to smooth out the process.

“It’s going to be a great tournament that’s a little bit more streamlined than last year,” said tournament director Brad Lyans.

The biggest change was switching some of the matches from Golden Valley High to Saugus, where the school’s gym is equipped with a swamp cooler to help keep the temperature under control.

“The feedback we got from all of the coaches was very, very good,” said LAVA director of operations Nabil Mardini of last year’s tournament. “The only negative we got was from the heat, the weather.”

Both Saugus and West Ranch have swamp coolers and the Sports Complex is air conditioned.

Other than that, it’s the same basic setup where the teams are divided into an Open and a Festival division. The Open is the more competitive one while the Festival features mostly junior varsity teams.

All Open division matches are scheduled to occur at the Sports Complex, which is serving as the tournament’s main stage. Festival matches will be split between Saugus and West Ranch High.

Teams will take part in pool play through the first two days of the tournament and will then be placed in playoff brackets based on their performances. The playoffs take place on Saturday.

Three local varsity teams, West Ranch, Hart and Saugus, are competing in the Open division while Canyon’s varsity and Valencia’s JV team will play in the Festival.

After winning the Festival division last year, Hart moved up to the Open.

Valencia varsity was unable to return to the tournament due to a prior commitment to play in a tournament in Oxnard over the weekend.

Ths number of participants is up from last year’s 22 teams, and the event was moved to a week earlier in August to help accommodate some of the out-of-town teams.

Some of the notable schools returning from a year ago are Louisville High of Woodland Hills, the 2012 Mission League co-champions, Notre Dame of Sherman Oaks, Chaparral of Temecula Valley and the returning champion Club Talon team, which is made up of Clovis West High players.

Another team from the Fresno area, Sunnyside, was added to the fold this year in addition to newcomers Santa Paula and Chaminade of Canoga Park.

“I think the level is going to be better than last year, especially in the Open,” Mardini said.

In the future, Mardini said he hopes to attract teams from outside California and grow this event into a much bigger ordeal.

“Eventually, the goal is to be able to use every single high school gym in the valley and the Sports Complex,” Mardini said.

For further information on the tournament and updates with daily results, go to lavacademy.com/foothill

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