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Kawaguchi leads at Sage Hill

Daily Pilot High School Athlete of the Week

Junior setter has helped Lightning to its first Academy League boys' volleyball title since 2008.

April 27, 2012|By David Carrillo PeƱaloza
  • Sage Hill School's Kent Kawaguchi.
Sage Hill School's Kent Kawaguchi. (DON LEACH, Daily…)

On the Sage Hill School volleyball court is where Kent Kawaguchi feels at his best. It makes sense why he invited the entire student body sitting on the bleachers down to the court on Monday.

The junior wasn't in his usual volleyball outfit, shorts and T-shirt. He wore a collared shirt and tie with gray pants to this gathering, nothing too fancy or casual.

Students made their way down to listen to what Kawaguchi had to say on this morning. More than 400 students stood around him in a circle.

Kawaguchi's job was to sell why the students should vote for him as the student body president. Three minutes is all he had for his speech, enough time for Kawaguchi to stand out from the other two candidates.

Dan Thomassen, the volleyball coach, has heard Kawaguchi fire up a group before. This situation was much different. He wasn't talking to just nine teammates.

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"A risk," Thomassen said of Kawaguchi's decision "to try and get the whole school to get up on their feet and lead them. It's something that could've gone horribly wrong and he pulled it off and kind of lit a spark in the student body."

Thomassen said Kawaguchi knows what it takes to lead, on and off the court.

He proved it to the school by winning the election the following day.

The message to the student body had a similar tone to the one he has been preaching to his volleyball team all season.

"We got to stick together," Kawaguchi said.

Sage Hill has stuck together en route to claiming the program's first Academy League title in four years.

Thomassen said Kawaguchi deserves a lot of the credit for the success at Sage Hill (19-10, 8-1 in league). The position he plays is setter and he runs the team's offense.

"I like being the quarterback of the team," Kawaguchi said.

Thomassen said Kawaguchi is one of the top three setters in Orange County.

That is a saying a lot when Thomassen points out Kawaguchi has only played setter for two years. What he lacks in size, the 6-foot Kawaguchi makes it up with quick feet, smarts, great leadership skills and good hands.

There are times when Kawaguchi uses one of those hands to hammer a shot.

He not only collects 45-plus assists almost every time out, he can record double-digit kill efforts, as well, as was the case last week. He averaged 10 kills and 47 assists in Sage Hill's league wins against rival St. Margaret's and Crean Lutheran.

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