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Mira Costa Senior Takes 5th at Youth Olympic Games

Aug 26, 2014 08:36PM ● By DigMB Staff
While most Manhattan Beach kids headed back for their first day of school Tuesday, a Mira Costa High School senior took in the sights and sounds of the Youth Olympics across the world in China.

For Skylar Caputo, the experience was unreal. "To be able to wear my country's colors on my back and play the sport I love in this amazing event has been a once in a lifetime experience," she told DigMB. "Meeting new people and playing against this high level of beach volleyball athletes cannot be compared to any other event."

Skylar, who was selected in June to replace Susannah "Zana" Muno's original partner, captured a fifth place finish in beach volleyball with Zana in the 2014 Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China.

The accomplishment was a first in Youth Olympics, a first for Skylar and Zana who don't normally play together and more typically compete against one another.

"Playing with Zana was incredible," said Skylar, "and I hope to continue on playing in more tournaments with her."

For now, she and Zana can enjoy their Youth Olympics efforts. The 2014 Games were the second Youth Olympic Games ever and the first time beach volleyball was part of the competition.

On the boys' side, Team USA's Louis Richard of Redondo Beach and Torey “T.J.” DeFalco of Huntington Beach finished the Youth Olympics ranked 25th.

Skylar and Zana started off rough, going 2-3 in "tough pool play" with Brazil, Sierra Leone, Czech Republic, Switzerland, and Vietnam.

"For playoffs we won the first two rounds to get to quarter finals by beating France and Latvia," said Skylar. "We ended up fifth in the whole tournament when we lost against Canada."

Skylar and Zana won 21-14 in the first set and lost the second, 21-18 after twin sisters Nicole and Megan McNamara upped their game for Canada. Team USA then fell, 8-15, in the tie-breaker.

When she returns to school next week, Skylar will continue play on the Mira Costa girls volleyball team, which has been practicing since July. But eventually she will leave the indoor game behind.

"I will not be playing for any indoor volleyball clubs this year," said the Pepperdine University committed player. "I will be training with Elite Beach Volleyball Club in order to focus my training on beach volleyball." Skylar will play beach volleyball at Pepperdine.

Playing with just one other player in the sand has allowed me to have more control of the game and get more touches on the ball throughout the match," she said of her move to focus on beach volleyball. 

"It (beach volleyball) is a totally different mindset that is challenging to all the players. I have grown up around beach volleyball and have always loved the exciting spirit as well as dedication that comes along with this sport."

Volleyball is a family affair. Skylar's parents met on courts in Manhattan Beach and her sister plays, too. The 17-year-old athlete considers Manhattan Beach resident Kerri Walsh Jennings one of her role models.

"She honors playing with pride for her country and always pushing through till the end," said Skylar of the three-time Olympic Gold medalist Walsh Jennings who this month won her seventh Manhattan Beach Open title

In spring, Skylar will play her final beach volleyball season at Mira Costa. Chances are, we'll be hearing a lot more about this Manhattan Beach beach native in years to come.

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