It’s been 10 years since the Scorpions captured their first and only CIF-Southern Section championship.
This year’s Camarillo squad hopes to revive the magic of ’03.
“This team reminds me a lot of the team that won the CIF title,” said head coach Rob Vandermay, who’s in his 17th season guiding the Scorpions. “They’re both very athletic teams with one standout superstar player.
“We would love to put up a second banner for boys’ volleyball.”
Camarillo moved up to the top spot in the Division 3 coaches’ poll this week.
The Scorpions haven’t been ranked No. 1 since—you guessed it—2003.
Above the whiteboard hangs the Scorpions boys’ volleyball section championship banner and 2003 team photo.
“I put up the rankings on the whiteboard to remind the guys that the coaches picked us No. 1,” Vandermay said. “We want to work and practice like we’re the No. 1 ranked team. Every game, we want to play like a top-ranked team.
“I don’t want any surprise slipups. We have to live up to that No. 1 ranking. It’s our own motivation.”
Camarillo had a 15-5-1 record as of Wednesday. The Scorpions opened Pacific View League action Thursday night at Hueneme. Match results weren’t available at press time.
Camarillo has won two straight league titles.
Superstar senior outside hitter Owen Yoshimoto leads the Scorpions.
The 6- foot- 2 Yoshimoto racked up 170 kills through the squad’s first 21 matches.
“Owen Yoshimoto is an all- CIF, all-county and all-league type of player,” Vandermay said. “If we have success this season, he’ll be the reason why. He’s a terrific outside hitter. He makes everyone’s job easier.
“Defenses have to plan around Owen.”
Yoshimoto didn’t arrive to Tuesday’s home match against West Ranch until the fourth set. He was in Hermosa Beach trying out for the U-19 USA men’s beach volleyball team.
The senior Scorpion was selected to the national team and will compete in Costa Rica from April 2-8.
“I’m very excited,” Yoshimoto said. “It feels great to be picked. I was a little surprised. My friends and family are very happy.”
Yoshimoto has received comparisons to Eric Vance, the top player on Camarillo’s section championship team.
Vance, a 2004 Camarillo graduate, starred for Cal State Northridge’s men’s volleyball team. Vance was named an All- American his senior year.
“We haven’t had a player like Owen since Eric Vance,” Vandermay said. “They have similar games. Coaches have compared Owen to Eric Vance.”
Yoshimoto’s younger brother, Matt, is a standout sophomore setter.
Matt Yoshimoto gets the ball in the right spots for his brother and senior middle blocker Brandon Tran.
“It’s fun being the guy that gets everyone going,” Matt Yoshimoto. “I get to tell people where to hit. I’m younger than most of the players, but they believe in me.”
Tran said he was surprised about the No. 1 ranking since the Scorpions aren’t loaded with 6-foot-5 specimens.
“I didn’t think people were paying attention to us because we’re not a tall team,” Tran said. “That No. 1 ranking gives us a boost of confidence to win a CIF title.
“I don’t think a lack of height will hurt us because we play tall. We have great chemistry.”
Senior middle blocker JT Vega is the Scorpions’ tallest player at 6-foot-4.
Tran didn’t grow up playing volleyball like Owen and Matt Yoshimoto. He was encouraged by Owen Yoshimoto to try out for the team his freshman year.
Vandermay said Tran has improved every year and is one of the top middle blockers in the county.
“I didn’t know anything about volleyball at first,” the 6-foot-2 Tran said. “I immediately fell in love with it. I want to get better every year. I hope to play in college. I’m not getting much interest because I’m not that tall, but that motivates me to improve.”
According to Vandermay, seniors Chris Salas and Victor Viveros are the most improved players.
Patrick Baguinon, Michael McCooey, Christian Gonzalez, Kai Thordarson, Brian Benson, Trevor Cooper, Ismael Enriquez, Davis Keairns and Satbir Dhaliwal contribute for the Scorpions.
“We want to make history happen again,” Tran said. “We know teams will play their hardest against us. We’re ready for the challenge.”