HomeBlocksFront-GridBoys' Volleyball: Titans Put to the Test in Season Opener

Boys’ Volleyball: Titans Put to the Test in Season Opener

The San Marino High boys’ volleyball team kicked off the season on the road taking on host Pasadena Polytechnic, a fellow member of the CIF Southern Section Division IV ranks.

In the season opener, the Titans stayed at it, but did not have the firepower to overcome the youthful Panthers and fell, 25-14, 25-23, 25-15, in nonleague play Feb. 22.

“It was a good first game,” San Marino coach Tony Chou said. “It was tough learning, but good first game playing with the six, seven people we have. I’m glad we got this first one under our belt.”

It was the volleyball equivalent of a restaurant’s soft opening as the Titans were playing without a number of key contributors against a Pasadena Poly side that was playing its third game.

“Keep an eye on us,” San Marino junior Luca Moggio said. “I think we are going to be a lot better. We were missing four of our starters this game, so we were missing a lot.”

Despite dropping the opening match of the campaign, the Titans have high hopes for the season.

“I think once we get through the kinks and getting familiar with each other we’ll get a good run in,” Chou said. “We have a lot of potential, and so it’s really just getting them to buy into the system.”

The Titans were led on offense by Moggio with six kills working from middle. Matt Woo and Thomas Keefer each had three kills, while Jeff Li and Ryan Wang had two apiece. Wang also served up four aces.

Against the Titans, the Panthers (2-1 overall) were led on the attack by freshman Sam Andrade, who had 10 kills and six aces. The squad’s lone senior, Pierre Vincent, had nine kills and one ace. Freshman Ryan Keltner recorded eight kills, while sophomore Jack Gomez had one kill and six aces.

“San Marino has got great defense. They’ve got a great middle blocker,” Pasadena Poly coach Jack Prater said. “They cause us a lot of trouble and we had to find ways to deal with it.”

Game two was the most competitive, featuring seven ties. The Titans started strong, sparked by Wang, who served three straight powerful aces that found the floor deep on the Poly side of the court, before the Panthers soon pulled ahead and stayed there until late. After a kill from the outside by Li got the visitors within one, Wang and Moggio combined on a block to knot the score at 19-19. Poly scored next, but a kill from the middle by Moggio, assisted by Wang, tied the game again. Wang notched his fourth ace of the game to give the Titans the lead. A service error then tied the contest again before another Titan block put them up 22-21.

It was the last lead of the contest for San Marino as a kill by Keltner followed by a bad pass by the Titans yielded the advantage. A kill from the outside by Keefer tied the score for the final time at 23-23, but Poly finished the job. First was a kill from the outside by Keltner, ending a rally that included Titan Hunter Piccinini getting a dig with his foot, and then a hitting error by the Titans.

In game three, the hosts scored the first two points before San Marino tied the game with a kill from Moggio and an ace by Wang. However, Pasadena Poly took the lead after that and stayed ahead. The advantage in the final game peaked at 12. Gomez ended the match when he sent the ball over the net instead of passing to a teammate for a clever kill, setting the final margin of 25-15.

“I think they really picked it up and kind of started playing volleyball the second and third [games],” Chou said.

In game one, San Marino struggled with the service game of the Panthers, who rang up eight aces. Pasadena Poly scored the first five points of the match and led by as many as 12. The Titans fought off two game points, first on a kill from the outside by Keefer, then one by Wang, before the Panthers sealed the deal at 25-14.

“I didn’t really like our serve receive this game. It was pretty bad,” Moggio conceded. “I feel what we need to work on is serve receive and our blocking, we had some holes in that.”

After playing a slate of nonleague matchups, San Marino begins Rio Hondo League play on the road against La Cañada on March 12.

“I’m looking forward to a competitive league,” Moggio said. “I know a lot of the players that are on the other teams, so I know we are in for a fight. We’re looking for number one in the league, obviously, and we’re looking to have a good CIF run, that’s some of our goals this season.”

First published in the Feb. 29 issue of the San Marino Tribune


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