Volleyball matches that extend to the maximum of five sets typically favor the more experienced team, but San Marino High School’s boys’ varsity squad is setting that axiom back a few decades.
With two starters who until this year have never played a single point of varsity volleyball—one of whom until this spring has never played the game at all—the Titans have defeated La Cañada and South Pasadena in back-to-back matches to grab an early lead in the Rio Hondo League.
San Marino went up north to shock the Spartans by final scores of 25-21, 25-22, 19-25, 18-25 and 15-13. After a quick start, the Titans were just plain pedestrian in sets three and four before rekindling the fires for the fifth and deciding set.
Senior Kai Barra delivered the match-winning kill for the Titans, one of the team-high fifteen that he recorded for the match. Junior Carver Weirick added eleven kills and senior middle blocker Eric Fu added nine while contributing five solo blocks.
Senior Michael Baldocchi, a career basketball player who until February had never spiked a volleyball, again imposed his will at the net, recording ten blocks and altering the Spartan attack in the key fifth set.
Freshman setter Kyle Yu continued to impress, distributing the ball among a wide array of hitters that kept La Cañada’s defense off-beat. Christofer Duenas had an excellent game on defense and at the serving line and Seth Matzumoto was also a force while serving.
Joshua Hom and Mitchell Cootauco also added punch to the lineup as the Titans claimed the win.
San Marino was back on the road two days later, visiting rival South Pasadena. In what was a more back-and-forth affair, the Titans won by scores of 25-16, 20-25, 16-25, 26-24 and 15-3 in front of a raucous pro-Tiger audience.
Weirick led the attack with 16 kills, followed by Barra (9), Fu (7) and Cootauco, who came off the bench to collect five. Most impressive was the one-sided fifth-set score of 15-3, which is rare in rally scoring. Weirick’s hitting and Baldocchi’s blocking had South Pasadena reeling from the outset as the Titans roared to a 7-2 advantage and never looked back. Yu was again poised in the face of a road crowd and Fu recorded three blocks in the third set alone as San Marino improved to 2-0 in league action.
The Titans had matches on Wednesday, March 27 and Thursday, March 28 against Gabrielino and Temple City, respectively. Please see sanmarinotribune.com for results.