APTOS — Asked to describe the impact of star outside hitter Kacey Losik, Aptos High head coach Jake Landel wrote what he called a “short novel” about his M.V.P.’s maturity, his team’s leadership and the development of their chemistry.
“I could honestly write about this team forever,” Landel wrote in an email.
Losik, Landel and the Mariners had plenty to write home about this season.
Losik was named the Santa Cruz Coast Athletic League’s Most Valuable Player, Landel won Coach of the Year for the second straight season and five other players earned all-league honors. Seniors Noah Eitzen and Christian Segura made the All-SCCAL First Team, and junior Jackson Shirley made the All-SCCAL Second Team, while senior Michael Spinelli and junior Hayden Mennie landed honorable mention.
All of those awards were a product of a special season. Aptos won its third league crown in the last four years and finished with a 28-6 overall record, while also notching a trip to the Central Coast Section finals and the program’s first-ever CIF NorCal playoff win.
The Mariners heavily relied on their teamwork and defense, and also had the league’s top player to bail them out when all else failed.
Losik, a high-flying senior with a pummeling strike at the net, had monster performances in nearly every big match. He recorded triple-doubles in key league wins over Mt. Madonna (15 digs, 11 kills, 26 assists) and Pacific Collegiate School (12 digs, 26 kills and 10 assists) that powered Aptos to the regular season title, and also put up 21 kills and 12 digs in the SCCAL tournament final against P.C.S.
The Mariners started the league season with a rocky three-set loss against Mt. Madonna, but quickly rebounded with 13 straight league wins to capture the title.
Losik, Segura and Spinelli — three of six seniors — led the charge in what was a surprising championship run.
“I didn’t expect this… It’s not to say that I didn’t believe in our team, but they surprised me,” Losik said. “It was a good surprise.”
Landel said Losik was more than comfortable in the role as “the guy,” a part he has played since he was a sophomore on an SCCAL champion squad.
“Game point for the other team and we need to score to stay alive? Or game point for us and we need to score to win? The ‘guy’ is going to get the set during those situations and the entire gym knows it. Similar to who’s going to take that last shot in a basketball game,” Landel wrote. “Kacey has been that player for us ever since he was a sophomore. Imagine being a 15-year-old kid with the season on the line and knowing you will get that last set. Having that do-or-die weight on your shoulders at such a young age can rapidly mature a player’s mental game and that is exactly what I witnessed over the course of 3-4 years of coaching him.”
Losik, who will head to Cabrillo College next season and continue playing in the AVP and FIVB pro beach volleyball circuit, was quick to distribute the recognition among his teammates.
“I have to thank my team for that,” Losik said during the team’s postseason run. “I can’t get M.V.P. unless we win league, so I see it as a team award.”
Landel had a similar feeling for his honor, writing that “this award should have more meaning to my team and the Aptos community. It is their accomplishments and support that made this season and its result a possibility.”
Mt. Madonna, which finished second behind Aptos in the league standings, had seven players earn All-SCCAL honors. Seniors Jordan Willis and Brigg Busenhart made the All-SCCAL First Team. Seniors Zach Wagner and Zack Clark and junior Sage Turner garnered a spot on the All-SCCAL Second Team. And juniors Sammith Lakka and Luca Peruzzi earned honorable mention.
Soquel High freshman Max Walters was named the SCCAL Rookie of the Year.