Two El Camino beach volleyball pairs qualify for state championship

On blistering day where the winds were picking up speeds of 25 to 30 miles per hour, there stood eight pairs who had just punched their ticket to the 2017 beach volleyball State Individual Tournament.

The sand was stuck in the air and the players could barely even see the opposite side of the court, a first for many of them.

The eight pairs persisted to play, despite the unfavorable weather conditions, and eventually Long Beach’s Sarah Miller and Paige Panter came out on top as conference champions on Friday, April 28.

Those eight pairs will be heading to the State Individual Tournament next week to fight a for spot at the state title.

“(The wind) made playing really, really, really difficult,” El Camino sophomore Taylor Brydon said. “It’s honestly anyone’s game out there when it gets that bad.”

Brydon and her partner, sophomore Brooklyn Rubio, fell in the conference semifinals to San Diego Palomar’s No. 1 pair of Brittany Mitchell and Kianna Niu in a tumultuous two-set loss.

Along with Brydon/Rubio, they are joined by their own No. 1 pair of sophomore Michelle Shimamoto and freshman Micah Hammond at the state tournament.

Shimamoto was last year’s conference champion and fell in the round of 16 at the state tournament with former partner, Nickeisha Williams.

Hammond/Shimamoto fell in the quarterfinal match in a tough three-set loss where they could not close out the game, despite having a 14-12 lead.

“It really sucks to lose there,” Hammond said. “But we’re going to prepare for state.”

Ultimately the other three pairs for EC did not make it to the quarterfinals, with sophomore Nina Wyer and freshman Melissa Euyoque winning their play-in match, only to lose to Miller/Panter.

The other pairs of sophomore Victoria Curtice and freshman Megan Lim and sophomore Kiana Takahashi and freshman Aiko Waters both fell in the first round against their opponents.

“Well, we figure out who they’ll play some time this week,” EC coach Le Valley Pattison said. “I think it’s exciting for them to go to the state tournament for indoor and beach.”

Hammond, Shimamoto, Brydon and Rubio were all part of the 2016 indoor women’s volleyball team that eventually lost to L.A. Pierce College in the semifinals.

Eight quarterfinalists from the Pacific Coast Athletic Conference going to the state tournament:

  • No. 1 Sarah Miller and Paige Panter – Long Beach City College
  • No. 2 Brittany Mitchell and Kianna Niu – San Diego Palomar College
  • No. 3 Taylor Brydon and Brooklyn Rubio – El Camino
  • No. 4 Gionni Brown and Katie Barton – Grossmont College
  • No. 5 Micah Hammond and Michelle Shimamoto – El Camino
  • No. 6 Kat Wright and Flavia Virgili – San Diego Mesa College
  • No. 7 Mailia Sellers and Madeleine Alper – MiraCosta College
  • No. 8 Robyn Arthur and Madeline Shaeffer – Grossmont College