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Boys' Volleyball Dream Team: Rakestraw towers above all

Newport Harbor High star stood out among elite to be named area's player of the year.

July 04, 2013|By David Carrillo PeƱaloza
(KEVIN CHANG / Daily…)

The volleyball season never seems to end for a 7-footer from Newport Beach.

For Kevin Rakestraw, it finally wrapped up last week. He boarded a plane to complete a long, taxing year.

There isn't enough legroom for someone his size to relax on a flight before his final tournament. He would need two rows of seats taken out to stretch out those long limbs of his.

For Rakestraw's sake, the flight wasn't too long. He traveled with his Balboa Bay Volleyball Club Hurley under-18 team to Reno, Nev., to compete at the USA Volleyball Junior National Championships.

Rakestraw is no stranger to this tournament, which is by far the country's biggest on the club level. His teams have finished second and first the past two years.

Rakestraw helped Balboa Bay Volleyball Club reach the open division finale again in its age group. In the way was 949 Athletics' Black team, from San Juan Capistrano.

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The team is comprised of players Rakestraw knew well. He played against a couple of them in his last Newport Harbor High match of his career. They ended Rakestraw's senior season in May, when the Sailors lost in the second round of the CIF Southern Section Division 1 playoffs at third-seeded San Clemente.

Those same players stopped Rakestraw again, as 949 Athletics won the gold medal. Rakestraw didn't come home with the ultimate prize, but he's the Daily Pilot Newport-Mesa Dream Team Player of the Year in boys' volleyball after a standout season.

The last time a Newport Harbor player earned the top local award was two years ago, and just like Cody Caldwell that school year, Rakestraw stood out on two courts, in volleyball and basketball.

Rakestraw, a Dream Team pick in boys' basketball in the winter, can play hoops. However, volleyball is the sport he plans to play on the next level at Stanford.

"There was no player that had a greater impact on any matches than Kevin Rakestraw did," said Steve Astor, who finished his second and last season as Newport Harbor's head coach.

While Astor fell short of leading the Sailors to the top of the Sunset League during his short stint, Rakestraw kept the program in contention. Each year under Astor the Sailors placed second to Huntington Beach, which this spring went on to claim the CIF Southern Section Division 1 and CIF Southern California Regional Division 1 titles.

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