Agopian competed in a USA Volleyball junior national tournament in Minneapolis with his club team, Diablo Valley 18 Cobra Kai, for which he played multiple positions, mostly opposite hitter.
The majority of the teams the 6-foot-7-inch Agopian and his opponents faced came from Southern California – the prime source of volleyball talent in the nation. Agopian’s squad also clashed with teams from as far flung as Long Island, Maryland, Missouri and Hawaii.
Ranked No. 20 at the beginning of the tournament, Cobra Kai exceeded expectations and finished 15th. Nevertheless, Agopian felt the team underperformed. “We could have beaten some of the teams that we lost to,” Agopian said. “We beat all the teams we should have beaten. We just didn’t beat the teams we could have beaten.”
Agopian’s tournament totals were impressive: 99 kills, a solid .345 hitting percentage, five aces, 21 blocks and 24 digs. “I wasn’t able to practice as much as I wanted to,” he said. “I did some damage, but I made too many errors. ‘Alright’ is a good word to describe my performance. It wasn’t bad, but I didn’t play great, either.”
The UC Irvine-bound Agopian wasn’t the only BVAL player in Minneapolis. Former teammate Derrico Kwa competed with the Diablo Valley 16 Black team, which went from the No. 45 seed to a No. 26 ranking.
While Kwa has two more years as a Wolverine, Agopian will begin practicing with the Anteaters on Sept. 15. While the USA tournament showed mixed results, he believes he’s making progress on the way to Irvine.
“I always feel like I’m improving,” said Agopian. “I wasn’t always the player to help players come up when morale was down, but I was learning to become that player. … At the next level, you’re not just playing against great athletes, although everyone is. But you’re also competing against strong leaders.”