Little Richley plays big for Newport Harbor

Daily Pilot High School Athlete of the Week

Libero helps lead Newport Harbor to OC Championships Division 1 title.

March 22, 2012|By David Carrillo PeƱaloza
(Kevin Chang | Daily…)

Max Richley has tried to play outside hitter at Newport Harbor High. His boys' volleyball coaches just won't let him.

When you're 5-foot-8 like Richley, you play libero.

The position fits the senior. He provides the energy, keeps the team focused, and carries the right attitude when the Sailors play.

"Never let any ball hit the floor," Richley said. "Make sure the rest of the team has the same mentality. Just try to be perfect."

Richley aims for perfection on the court. You can use perfect to describe how the Orange County Championships Division 1 tournament ended for Richley.

The three-day event didn't begin with the ideal result, a loss, but the Sailors went on to win the next five matches. The last one, for the title, came on Monday against Corona del Mar, the defending ESPN RISE national champion.


The Sailors swept their Back Bay rivals, 25-20, 27-25, at Edison High and started their week off with a bang. The guy most responsible for Newport Harbor's success was the smallest player on the team.

Richley stood out among giants. When he heard the PA announcer say he was the tournament MVP, Richley looked surprised.

"I was hoping for all-tournament," said Richley, who helped his team claim the tournament crown after finishing second last season. "Winning MVP was icing on the cake."

Richley will get his cake, a birthday one, on Friday.

He turns 18 on the same day the Sailors open Sunset League play at home against Edison. The day is a huge one for Richley and his team.

Richley wants to end it celebrating a victory.

The Sailors need to get off to a good start to keep up with Huntington Beach in league. Steve Astor, who's in his first season at the helm at Newport Harbor, said the Oilers have the top team in league.

The No. 1 team in league used to be Newport Harbor, which has finished undefeated in league in three of the past four seasons.

Richley started for the first time last year and played a vital role to the program's success, a league title and a quarterfinal appearance in the CIF Southern Section Division 1 playoffs. He admits the Sailors lost key players, including outside hitter Cody Caldwell, the Volleyball Magazine National Player of the Year last season, outside hitter Rusty Sary and setter Ian Sequeira, both first-team all-league picks, and their legendary coach, Dan Glenn.

Richley believes many have underestimated Newport Harbor, which is unranked in the Division 1 poll. He believes his team can contend.

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