HomeBlocksFront-GridBoys' Volleyball: San Marino Sweeps Way Into First Championship Match

Boys’ Volleyball: San Marino Sweeps Way Into First Championship Match

After securing a road win in the second round, the San Marino High boys’ volleyball team returned home for the quarterfinals, looking to take the next step toward a CIF Southern Section Division V title and a qualifying spot in the state championships.

Against visiting El Rancho High, the Titans started slow, but then took off to sweep away El Rancho, 25-23, 25-20, 25-16, in their quarterfinal matchup May 1.

“We got through it,” San Marino coach Tony Chou said of his Titans. “The first set was really close, but they stayed tough. This is what I said at the beginning of the season — we really need to be mentally tough and just consistent. I think if we play consistent, we can pretty much go all the way, but we’ll work on the consistency.”

With the win San Marino, ranked No. 4 in the final divisional poll, brought the season to an end for El Rancho (21-5 overall), which was the top entry from the Del Rio League.

“Our outsides, we struggled a little bit getting into rhythm, so kudos to San Marino they were able to finish our free balls, our tips,” El Rancho coach Ida Picon said.

On Saturday, May 4, San Marino was back on its home floor for its semifinal matchup against Rio Mesa High, the No. 4 entry from the Channel League, which had swept top-seeded Godinez Fundamental in a quarterfinal matchup.

In the semifinal against the visiting No. 8 seed Spartans, the Titans maintained their consistency with a 25-23, 25-19, 25-23 sweep to secure a spot in the CIF Southern Section Division V championship match.

San Marino will face Sage Hill for the section crown at Cerritos College May 11 at 10 a.m.

The Lightning, who are 21-8 overall and the No. 2 entry from the Pacific Hills League, began their playoff run with a four-game victory over No. 10 Fullerton and survived a five-game marathon against No. 7 Camarillo in the second round. Sage Hill defeated No. 2 seed Rancho Verde in a four-game decision in the quarterfinal and swept Flintridge Prep in the semifinal to clinch a spot in the title match.

In the quarterfinal on May 1, the Dons opened the match on a 6-1 run in a game one that saw seven ties.

El Rancho’s final lead came at 21-20 before the next Don serve went into the net to knot the game. Titan freshman Matt Woo then served up the first of his three aces in the match to pull ahead. A Titan hit went out, tying the score again at 22 before Casey Chan’s kill from the outside pushed the Titans ahead. A kill by Don Isai Cosio deadlocked the game once again at 23-23, but San Marino then got a kill on a tip shot from Chan, followed by a kill in the middle by Luca Moggio for the win.

The play of the Titan middles was the catalyst for the San Marino attack with 18 combined kills, with a team-high 11 by Moggio and six by senior Jeffery Li. This was complemented by 11 kills from Chan. Senior Ryan Wang had four kills and setter Jared Wang recorded two to go along with an ace. Thomas Keefer had one kill, as did Hunter Piccinini, who also had an ace. Freshman Zach Fong had two aces.

El Rancho played tough defense throughout, but the Titans kept swinging.

“They were really, really scrappy and they played great defense, but I think we just kept hitting it down into their spots, their seams, and we just kept pounding, which is why I think we won,” Jared Wang said.

Chan put it even more simply: “If you swing once and you miss, you’ve got to swing again.”

San Marino never trailed in game two, but the Titan lead never eclipsed six. After a rare timeout called by Chou up 21-18, the Titans scored the next three to bring up game point, starting with a point courtesy of Chan and then back-to-back aces by Woo. El Rancho scored the next two points, but Li finished off the Dons in game two after that with a kill in the middle.

San Marino never trailed in game three either, although it was close in the early stages before the hosts seized control with a 7-0 run to balloon their advantage to 16-7. The run started with two consecutive kills by Moggio in the middle, followed by a kill on the outside by Keefer prompting a El Rancho timeout. After that, the Titans kept it going with a block by Moggio, followed by a kill from Ryan Wang attacking from the backline, followed by a combo block by Moggio and Jared Wang on the outside and finishing with an El Rancho hitting error prompting another Don timeout.

In the final game, the San Marino lead peaked twice at 12, the first time after an ace by Fong and the second time two points later when the Dons were called for a lift to make it 22-10 in favor of the hosts. El Rancho prolonged the match after that with a 5-0 run that was ended with a hit by Ryan Wang that nipped off the El Rancho block for a kill. The Dons scored the next point, but Chan then registered a kill on the outside to bring up match point. Titan Ryan Lee served up the next ball, and the point ended with a Don hit sailing long to seal the match for the Titans and advance them into the semifinals.

“This one at first was a little bit more challenging than usual, but I think we still played it through, got better each set with the score and we won in the end, so I am really glad that our whole team did really well,” Ryan Wang said.

First published in the May 9 issue of the San Marino Tribune


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