Scorpions invest big in Yoshimoto stock

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© Richard Gillard/Acorn Newspapers
Camarillo High junior Owen Yoshimoto, left, and his older brother Evan, a senior, are two key contributors for the defending Pacific View League champion Scorpion boys’ volleyball team. There is a third Yoshimoto on the ACHS roster, Matt, a freshman. Steve Yoshimoto, the trio’s father, is an assistant coach. The brothers helped lead ACHS to 14 wins in its first 20 matches. © Richard Gillard/Acorn Newspapers
There are the Blues Brothers. The Hansons. The Baldwins. Charlie Sheen and the dude who did time in three “Mighty Ducks” movies.At Camarillo High, there are the Yoshimotos.

Brothers Evan, Owen and Matt Yoshimoto are valuable student-athletes for the Scorpion boys’ volleyball team, which opened the season with 14 victories in 20 matches, including tournament outings.

The Yoshimotos’ father, Steve, is a varsity assistant coach.

“We’d be a totally different program without them,” ACHS head coach Rob Vandermay said.

“ The three players start. They’re half the players on the court at any given time. They play a huge factor, and they’ve all grown by leaps and bounds.”

Despite losing nine seniors from a squad that won a Pacific View League championship and reached the CIF-Southern Section Division 3 semifinals in 2011, Camarillo hasn’t missed a beat.

Ranked seventh in the Division 3 coaches’ poll, the Scorpions are athletic along the front row, throwing down ferocious kills, constructing walls for big blocks and running a fast offense.

They’re adept at serving, passing and setting the ball high.

“We have a solid team all the way around,” Vandermay said.

The youngest Yoshimoto brother has made a major impact in his first varsity season.

Matt Yoshimoto is not only the first freshman to start for Vandermay at Camarillo but the first rookie to start in school history, according to the head coach.

Matt Yoshimoto has soft hands and he gets his hitters involved.

“He’s quiet, not cocky, but he’ll tell his brothers to get in line,” the coach said. “It’s cool that he can tell his older brothers what to do.”

The Yoshimotos developed orchestra-like chemistry from playing beach volleyball together every weekend with their dad.

Matt Yoshimoto said he enjoys competing day in and day out with the Scorpions, instead of just practicing twice a week with Spectrum Volleyball Club.

“It’s more fun that we get to play every day,” said Matt Yoshimoto, who played three years of youth football with the Camarillo Cougars.

The freshman said his brothers push him to improve.

Evan and Owen Yoshimoto have played high school volleyball together for three years.

They also team up in the offseason for Santa Barbara beach volleyball tournaments.

Evan Yoshimoto, a 6-foot-5 senior opposite, said the Scorpions play it one point at a time.

“We’ve focused a lot on cutting down errors and pushing through each game as hard as we can,” the senior said.

The Scorpions are shooting for back-to-back league titles.

Rio Mesa (14-7 overall, 2-0 PVL at press time) has established itself as the strongest challenger in Camarillo’s path.

The crosstown rivals hit the floor together Thurs., April 12 at the Scorpions’ nest.

“ We can’t take any game lightly,” said Evan Yoshimoto, an honors student who enjoys surfing and spending free time on the beach. “But we’re looking forward to Rio Mesa. We know a lot of players on that team.”

Evan Yoshimoto, a co-captain with outside hitter J.T. McGinley, is the team’s emotional leader. The opposite led ACHS with 156 kills in its first 40 sets.

“The way he plays, the team responds to him,” Vandermay said of Evan Yoshimoto.

“I took him out for half of one set at Channel Islands, and the team looked lost without him. They feed off him.”

Owen Yoshimoto is the team’s quickest hitter. He’s a strong allaround player who’s an excellent passer and hitter, the coach said.

The junior outside hitter had 126 kills entering Thursday’s match against Oxnard. He said the team plays its best when everyone’s communicating.

“We’re all pretty happy when we play,” said the 6-foot-2 Owen Yoshimoto, who ran cross country as a freshman.

“ When we play loud, we play well.”

Owen Yoshimoto said he enjoys playing beach volleyball with his brothers and father.

“It’s really mellow on the beach, but it’s also competitive,” he said. “It gives us a good workout. . . .

“Hopefully, we win league and get far in the CIF playoffs.”

McGinley is a big- time contributor.

With 6- foot- 6 senior Jake Maulhardt occupying middle blocker, Vandermay has been able to shift McGinley to outside hitter. McGinley reacts quickly to the ball, and he’s a solid passer.

“Jake Maulhardt has been a big asset,” said McGinley, who played one season of basketball and football. “This is my first year playing outside hitter. I like it. I like playing in the back row.”

A three-year varsity standout, McGinley led Camarillo with 28 service aces and 36 blocks and was third with 87 kills at press time.

This is Maulhardt’s first season playing volleyball. A star football wide receiver with multiple Division I scholarship offers, Maulhardt also suited up for the Scorpion basketball squad.

To get Maulhardt up to speed, Vandermay had Maulhardt work out with multiple coaches.

“He responded to coaching quickly,” Vandermay said. “He knows how to move his body through space.”

Senior libero Richard Martin plays strong defense. Martin, a football standout, led the Scorpions with 99 digs through 40 games.

“He’s one of the most competitive players I’ve ever had,” Vandermay said of Martin.

Brandon Tran, a junior, has played well at middle blocker.

Matt Lariviere is a versatile utility with an excellent attitude. The junior also plays soccer.

Senior middle blocker Cody Nigh has a great attitude, the coach said.

Jon Ballard, Marc Cooper and Ryan McCormick aid the coaching staff.

This is a strong squad that’s already defeated Oaks Christian, Newbury Park and Agoura. But there’s plenty of work remaining. Camarillo has one big goal on the docket.

“We went to the semis last year,” Vandermay said. “I want to go all the way.”

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