A Rudy Story at Loyola High: Grant Steuerwald comes to the rescue

California’s No. 1 high school volleyball team was in big trouble. Los Angeles Loyola lost his first set to Redondo Union in the opening round of the Southern Section Division 1 playoffs and dropped 23-18 in the second set.

Coach Michael Boehle had already made a start change at the start of the set. He put in a player that no one had ever seen or heard of all season. Grant Steuerwald, 5 foot 7 and 115 pounds, looked like a fifth-grade free for the Cubs. He barely got behind his teammates.

“People ask me if I’m a freshman,” he said.

In January he broke his left elbow and tore his triceps while skiing in Colorado.

“I was coming down a hill and my right ski fell off. I hit a tree. Trees always win,” he said.

For three months he was sidelined. Finally cleared to resume training a week ago, the junior said he didn’t expect to be placed in the opening playoff game. Boehle felt that something had to change.

“I had to make a decision,” he said. “I knew that even if he didn’t have the repetitions, he could come in and stabilize us.”

So there was this kid on the same court with Loyola’s Dillon Klein 6-5, no. 1 recruit in the nation to USC. And Steuerwald stepped forward fulfilling the duties of the free: receiving services, passing and digging.

It was so amazing to see someone so small making a huge impact in a top tier playoff match at Division 1 level. It was an example of the magic of high school sports and how anyone with the fundamentals of a particular sport can do forward and contribute, especially by playing the free position in volleyball.

“If you have good hand-eye coordination and ball control, this is the perfect position for you,” said Steuerwald.

Klein said: “He basically grinded and got his chance. He doesn’t play at the net, which requires height, physicality, vertical leap. He’s in the back row digging balls and getting services. Having a good free is crazy for a team ”.

Boehle said of Steuerwald’s contributions: “It stays so low to the ground that it sees everything smaller than everyone else. He is a very intelligent free. His job is to pass and play defense. That’s all. What it brings is stability. “

Loyola free Grant Steuerwald whips up the Division 1 semifinals against Beckman.

Loyola free Grant Steuerwald whips up the Division 1 semifinals against Beckman.

(Brody Hannon)

Loyola would gather in the second set to defeat Redondo Union 25-23 and win the game in four sets. The Cubs also won the semifinal on Saturday against Irvine Beckmanadvancing to the Division 1 championship game against Newport Harbor at Long Beach City College next Saturday.

Steuerwald’s university debut will not soon be forgotten. The scar on his elbow from the ski injury is still there. He still looks out of place due to his youthful looks about him. But under pressure, he proved that he belongs to a field full of giants.

“It was pretty emotional,” he said.