Senior outside hitter Alex Rottman was one Santa Barbara High boys volleyball player who was well rested going into Tuesday’s crosstown match against Dos Pueblos.
That was unfortunate for the Chargers.
Rottman, who didn’t play in Saturday’s marathon Dos Pueblos Invitational, looked fresh for the Channel League match as he pounded balls from the net, the back row and service line, leading the CIF-SS Division 1 fifth-ranked Dons to a 25-19, 25-19, 25-20 sweep at J.R. Richards Gym.
Rottman blasted 17 kills and served four of Santa Barbara’s 10 aces in the win.
At the net, he consistently beat the DP block with ferocious angled hits inside the block.
“I’m sure he’s been killing almost every team with that angle this year,” said DP coach Ehren Hug. “He’s a specimen, man. He’s super long, he flies high, and they got a really rhythmic system. It’s just so fast and inside and it takes blockers to be really quick to get over there.”
Rottman also put the ball away from the service line. He served three aces during a five-point run to finish off the second set after the Chargers pulled to within one, 20-19. He started the run with a solo block.
“Alex is Alex, you know,” said Santa Barbara coach Chad Arneson. “I’m very grateful to have him, but it showed in the tournament that we can also play really well when we don’t have him.”
The Dons won the tournament with a one-game victory over San Marcos, their next league opponent on Thursday at home.
The left-handed hitting Will Harman was a force at the opposite position against DP, putting away nine kills on a .400 hitting percentage.
Ford Harman, Will’s twin brother, ran Santa Barbara’s fast attack and dished out 38 assists.
“Ford does a good job of spreading it out, and he likes setting his brother. People know that, but it’s tough to stop a lefty,” said Arneson.
Santa Barbara’s tough serving made it difficult for DP to utilize its normally strong middle attack.
“We’ve been playing some tough teams and that helps playing them,” Arneson said of his team’s blistering jump serves. “When you have five of the six players that can jump serve, that obviously helps out. It showed when we played against (CIF-SS Division No. 1-ranked) Loyola. We need to start serving tough.”
Hug was impressed with Santa Barbara’s serving.
“Great serving team,” he said. “Alex and the rest of them really heated up and we really struggled just to side out on a lot of those jump serves.”
The Chargers’ passing struggles impacted their middle attack, which is their bread and butter.
“You have to have some really pinpoint, accurate passing on the jump serve and get it up to the net, so you can run your middle and have all your options open,” said Hug. “I think their jump serves took us out of system and at least eliminated our middle attack.”
Outside hitter Grant Hughes was the only DP player to score in double figures with 11 kills.
Andreas Schuetz had 11 kills and two service aces for the Dons.
After trailing 14-9 in the first set Ewan Richard served an ace to spark a 6-1 DP run to even the score at 15. Troy Fitzgerald ended a long rally with a hit off the block to tie the score.
Santa Barbara sided out as Ford Harman fed a back set to Rottman for a thundering kill.
The teams traded points before Will Harman served an ace to start a five-point run. The Dons won the set on a DP serving error.
Will Harman hammered a couple of sets from his brother and Ryan Slater served an ace to help the Dons open up an 8-3 lead in the second set.
Hughes sparked a DP comeback, blasting two kills and serving an ace to bring the Chargers to within one, 20-19.
Rottman then took charge with a solo block and three straight aces. Schuetz ripped one off the block for the winning point.
Dos Pueblos led 14-10 in the third before Santa Barbara stormed back a tied the score at 18 on a Rottman blast inside the block.
The Dons then capitalized on misplay by the Chargers and scored six more points.
Hughes collected two more kills for DP before Ford Harman fed Schuetz for a kill from the back row to end the match.
Santa Barbara improves to 10-3 overall and 3-0 in Channel League; Dos Pueblos is 6-4, 1-2.