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Santa Barbara’s Abayan Named Channel League MVP

Four-year starter leads all-star squad that includes Johnson, Martinez and McCracken of Dos Pueblos; McGowan, Montgomery and Pratt of Santa Barbara; and San Marcos' Grimes.

Andy Abayan of Santa Barbara capped four years as a starter on the Dons’ undefeated Channel League volleyball teams with his selection as the league’s Most Valuable Player in 2008 on Tuesday.

Abayan proved that stature isn’t the only thing as he topped his much taller teammates and opponents. His terrific hands led to many hitting opportunities for his hitters. His jump serve was one of the best in the league. And he was a fine defender, coming up with big digs for the Dons when they needed them the most.

The rest of the first team was well chosen from the players who distinguished themselves all year with their superior play.

Middle blockers Ben Johnson of Dos Pueblos and Chris Pratt of Santa Barbara were head and shoulders above the competition.

Libero Derek Martinez of Dos Pueblos, perhaps the smallest player in the league, used his quickness afoot and tireless energy to keep many rallies alive.

Opposite hitter Craig McGowan of Santa Barbara was a hammer from both the front and the back row.

Outside hitters Andrew Grimes of San Marcos and Taylor Comden of Ventura were the focal points of their teams’ offenses all year and consistently got kills despite seeing double and triple blocks on every set.

Outside hitters Will McCracken of Dos Pueblos and Will Montgomery of Santa Barbara showed a complete range of skills. Each was often his team’s leader in kills, their passing was superb, their serves were consistently a challenge for opponents to control, and they blocked their positions as well.

Most of these fine players have played their last Channel League games, but Grimes and Pratt are juniors and will be back, and Dos Pueblos fans can look forward to two more years of cheering for McCracken, a sophomore and the youngest honoree.

The second team was Pete Aronchik and Taylor Fauntleroy of Santa Barbara, Ryan Beall and Jordan Dyer of Dos Pueblos, Adam Frank and Dylan Robars of Ventura, Eric Holliday of San Marcos and Taylor Nelson of Buena.

Congratulations to these fine players on a marvelous season, and expect to see some of these names again when the all-CIF teams are announced.

Will Beall is a Dos Pueblos High parent.

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