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Kaplanyan pride of the Pacific again

Water polo: Even though his team finished second to Glendale, Hoover standout named Player of the Year.

December 10, 2011|By Gabriel Rizk, gabriel.rizk@latimes.com

While technically a prize up for grabs among seven squads, the Pacific League boys' water polo title turned out to be a two-team race between archrivals Glendale High and Hoover.

The Nitros and Tornadoes' two exciting head-to-head meetings directly decided the league championship, with Glendale prevailing in both to finish unbeaten in league.

When the league's seven coaches recently convened to assemble the all-league team, Glendale landed five players on the list, including three first-teamers, and saw Coach Forest Holbrook receive his first Coach of the Year nod.

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Second-place Hoover got its share of recognition, as well, with standout senior utility Hakop Kaplanyan garnering his second straight Pacific League Player of the Year honor to lead a league-best six total selections for his team.

"I'm excited to hear that news. …I like it," Kaplanyan said of receiving his second straight player of the year honor after leading the Tornadoes (17-7) to a 6-2 record in league. "There's no doubt I'm happy with how my team did this year and the accomplishments we had. We made Hoover history and that's all we needed. I'm happy for the effort my team put in and I know everybody played their hearts out every single game."

Kaplanyan, the two-time reigning All-Area Player of the Year scored 139 goals, recorded 47 assists and notched 103 steals, while forcing opposing teams to game plan around his dynamic offensive skills and athletic prowess.

"It was obviously very nice having him on my team," first-year Hoover Coach Kevin Witt said of Kaplanyan. "He's a tremendous talent and a phenomenal athlete, one of the best overall athletes that I've ever had the pleasure of coaching. He really did some special things for us and the way he led our team and the way he pushed not only himself, but his teammates really helped us out throughout the middle and end of our season."

Glendale High's trio of first-team recipients consisted of senior center/guard/goalkeeper David Grigorian, senior set/defender Shant Tokatyan and sophomore driver Arman Momdzhyan.

Momdzhyan led the Nitros with 146 goals and drew 58 ejections, while Tokatyan had a team-best 154 steals to go along with 58 goals. Grigorian showed his versatility by playing in goal, where he recorded 142 saves, and in the field, where he scored 28 goals and assisted on 29 more.

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