Sisters lead El Camino Real to City Section beach volleyball title

What a senior year it has been for El Camino Real volleyball player Audrey Choi.

In the fall, she was an outside hitter on the Royals’ indoor volleyball team that captured the City Open Division championship.

On Saturday, Choi and freshman sister Addison won the City girls’ beach volleyball pairs tournament.

On Monday she completed the “trifecta” by leading the Royals to the beach volleyball team crown in Santa Monica.

“It’s been everything I could’ve asked for, really,” Audrey said. “Indoors there’s more energy and noisy crowds so it felt like a bigger deal, but for my sister and I this means a lot because it’s one of the last times we’ll get to play together. We might play some tournaments in the summer, but as far as the school team this is it, so I wanted to go out a winner.”

Being three years apart, Audrey and Addison play in separate age groups in CBVA (California Beach Volleyball Assn.), where you can choose different partners.

The Royals defeated West Valley League rival Taft in four sets Nov. 3 in the indoor final and were pitted against the Toreadors once again in the team final, winning two matches to one. The Choi sisters set the tone with a 21-3, 21-5 triumph over Taft’s No. 1 duo of Claire Mussell and Aleiah Carr to notch El Camino Real’s first point.

No one was prouder of Audrey than her sister, who was the setter on the indoor team.

“She deserved it and I savor all the moments I have with her because she’s leaving next year,” Addison said. “We have good chemistry and it’s about keeping a good attitude plus limiting errors. I wanted to win pairs with Audrey but getting this title too is a bonus.”

The sisters finished unbeaten in 21 matches on the sand this spring and did not drop a set in the process. On Saturday, they had to play teammates Claire Grasteit and Maddy Campus on their way to the pairs finals, where they downed Venice’s duo, Samantha Lortie and Savannah Rozell, 28-7.

“There was more pressure to win pairs because we had to beat one of our own teams,” said Audrey, who has committed to play beach at UC Davis. “We practice with them [Claire and Maddy], they know our tendencies and we know theirs so there were a lot of long rallies.”

El Camino Real's Claire Grasteit dives to dig a ball during the City beach volleyball team finals.

El Camino Real’s Claire Grasteit dives to dig a ball during the City Section beach volleyball team finals against Taft on Monday.

(Steve Galluzzo / For The Times)

Grasteit and Campus clinched El Camino Real’s championship Monday with their 21-15, 21-15 victory over the Toreadors’ tandem of Nicole Alvarado and Eva Velarde. The Royals’ duo led 9-2 in the second set when Velarde hurt her hip after banging into one of the net posts trying to dig a ball, but after a short delay she courageously chose to continue and served seven straight points to level the set at 14-14. However, the El Camino Real duo regrouped to win seven of the last eight points.

Taft twins Allison and Alexa Lugardo downed El Camino Real’s Niki Ghasemi and Kami Tashakor, 24-22, 21-18, but by then the title was already decided.

Audrey, 18, has played beach volleyball since she was 12 and Addison, 15, has played since she was 10.

“I’m more of a beach player, same as Audrey,” Addison said. “I like beach because there’s only two people on the court so you have to be good all-around. I try to set her a lot since she’s a better hitter.”

El Camino Real defeated Chatsworth 2-1 in the semifinals while the Toreadors beat Venice by the same score, as Velarde and Alvarado earned the decisive point by edging the Gondoliers’ No. 2 tandem of Tinoa Woodward and Yuna Schriano, 17-21, 21-16, 15-11.

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