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Opposite attracts attention and award

Volleyball: Pasadena Poly 6-foot-5 hitter Michael Saeta is this All-Area Boys' Volleyball Player of the Year after banner season.

July 06, 2012|By Charles Rich, charles.rich@latimes.com
(Tim Berger Staff…)

It was a common game plan at Pasadena Poly boys' volleyball matches the past four seasons. Hand the ball to opposite hitter Michael Saeta and odds were his thunderous jump-serve would be accurate and turn into something positive for the Panthers.

The 6-foot-5 Saeta proved to be an intimidating force for Poly. Besides his serving, Saeta could pound a ball for a kill or make a picture-perfect pass to a teammate to keep a rally going. The senior outside hitter made his teammates better while sporting a calm demeanor during a match.

It looked relatively easy for Saeta, but he's still learning each day about the finer techniques of the sport.

"I've always wanted to find ways to grow as a player since my freshman year," said the UC Irvine-bound Saeta, who finished his senior season with 536 kills, 218 digs, 89 aces and 45 blocks. "It's a great sport to be a part of, but I still need to find ways to improve my overall game before I head off to college."

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Saeta received plenty of recognition with a handful of postseason accolades after helping lead the Panthers to the CIF Southern Section Division V quarterfinals. He was named the All-CIF Division V Player of the Year, along with being selected the Prep League's co-Most Valuable Player and the co-most valuable player of the inaugural San Gabriel Valley All-Star Game.

Saeta's staggering statistics and overall dominance made him one of the top players across Southern California and led to him being named the All-Area Boys' Volleyball Player of the Year, as voted on by the sports writers and editors of the Pasadena Sun, Glendale News-Press, Burbank Leader and La Cañada Valley Sun.

"I tried to go out there and play with confidence and help my teammates be confident," said Saeta, who contributed 23 kills in a quarterfinal loss at Viewpoint on May 10. "We had a great team to be around and I tried to capitalize in different situations and my teammates did the same thing for me."

Saeta was a go-to threat that other teams didn't always possess in head-to-head meetings.

He immediately impressed Poly first-year Coach Mark Mina.

"You can see just how passionate he is about volleyball," Mina said. "In his mind, he knew he would go on to play in college and volleyball is his life.

"From a hitting standpoint, he scared a lot of the teams we faced. He's our go-to guy and he had great court awareness because he had the ability to know where everybody on the court needed to be and what needed to get done."

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