HOUSTON — Cole Pender, a future freshman at Newport Harbor High, and Jake Pearson, an incoming sophomore at Corona del Mar, helped the Balboa Bay Volleyball Club Asics boys' team beat San Clemente, 25-16, 25-18, to win the 15-and-under open division at the USA Junior National Championships on Thursday.
Balboa Bay went 11-0 and swept every opponent during the four-day tournament. Balboa Bay claimed the gold medal in the 15-and-under open division for the first time since 2009.
Pender, an outside hitter, earned all-tournament honors. Pearson, an opposite, and Newport Harbor incoming sophomore Spencer Lawrence, a middle blocker, started for Balboa Bay.
"Winning the gold has already sunk in … and we are ready for some more gold next year," Pender said via text. "It was a very hard fought tournament for the team, and all the practices, dive lines and passing drills really prepared us for winning the gold."
Pender and Pearson claimed their second gold at the Junior National Championships. The two were part of the Balboa Bay team that won the 14-and-under open division in 2012.
Other local members on the Balboa Bay team included Newport Harbor incoming sophomore Scott Schweitzer, and CdM future sophomores Clayton Dickinson and Grant Shaw.
Balboa Bay finished second in the 15-and-under open division at the 2013 Junior National Championships in Dallas.
"Winning the gold was awesome," Pearson said via text. "Our team peaked at the right time, beating [Puerto Rico's Borinquen Coqui, 25-20, 25-17] in the semis really gave us a lot of confidence going into the finals [versus] San Clemente. Coach Greg Ford was big on us winning as a team, not just individuals, and I think that's what was the difference between our team and the others.
"Going home with the gold is a great end to a great trip."
— From staff reports