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Boys Volleyball

Henry Hancock’s Clutch Hitting Carries Santa Barbara Past Dos Pueblos

Ben Roach of Santa Barbara High blocks hitting attempt by Owen Katz of Dos Pueblos. Click to view larger
Ben Roach of Santa Barbara High blocks hitting attempt by Owen Katz of Dos Pueblos. (Barry Punzal / Noozhawk photo)

Henry Hancock was in beast mode on Thursday night and Santa Barbara High boys volleyball coach Chad Arneson told his setter Dane Westwick to feed the beast.

Hancock was the go-to guy for the Dons and he delivered in several clutch situations, leading them to a tight four-set win over Dos Pueblos in a battle of Channel League unbeatens Thursday night at J.R. Richards Gym.

Hancock blasted 25 kills, with five coming in the fourth set of a 26-28, 25-22, 25-20, 25-23 win that moved the Dons to 3-0 in league and 8-5 overall. 

Henry Hancock hits high over the Dos Pueblos block. Hancock had 25 kills. Click to view larger
Henry Hancock hits high over the Dos Pueblos block. Hancock had 25 kills. (Barry Punzal / Noozhawk photo)

Will Rottman had 18 kills, Ben Roach eight kill and middle Aiden Douglas six kills and five blocks for Santa Barbara. Dons libero Pierce Barnes picked up 12 digs and Westwick handed out 44 assists.

Dos Pueblos, which suffered only its second match loss of the season and is now 11-2 overall and 2-1 in league, got 16 kills from Curren Malhotra, 10 from James Halleck and nine from middle Marcellous Gossett.

The UCSB-bound Hancock, who uses his long reach to hit over the top of blockers, was excited to be the main guy in the attack.

“We knew they were going to commit to Will a lot because he’s been leading us in kills and is a great outside hitter,” Hancock said. “But it’s hard for (opponents) because we have such a great outside and a great opposite. They don’t know what to do. We were able to take advantage of it and take the W.”

Arneson applauded Hancock’s performance.

“He definitely came through for us. When we needed a kill, Henry definitely came through. I told Dane, ‘Keep feeding the beast, he’s hungry right now and we got to keep him going.’ Henry did a great job of making plays.”

The Dons couldn’t make the plays down the stretch in the first set. Dos Pueblos recovered from a 24-22 deficit and pulled out the win. Setter Alex Cheng fed Halleck for a kill and DP scored the next two points on a Santa Barbara center-line violation and a  hitting error.

Hancock hammered a ball off the block to tie the score at 25. The teams traded side outs on hitting errors before DP scored the last two points on a kill by Malhotra and a stuff block by Gabe Hendlin off the bench.

Santa Barbara took an early lead in the second set only to see Dos Pueblos battle back. Another stuff block by Hendlin gave the Chargers an 11-9 lead. Hancock’s hitting kept the Dons close and a kill by Douglas gave them the lead, 19-18.

Santa Barbara volleyball team celebrates after beating Dos Pueblos in four sets in a battle of undefeated teams in the Channel League. Click to view larger
Santa Barbara volleyball team celebrates after beating Dos Pueblos in four sets in a battle of undefeated teams in the Channel League. (Barry Punzal / Noozhawk photo)

Malhotra tied the score at 21-21 before a serving error by the Chargers gave Santa Barbara the lead for good. The serving errors proved to be costly in the match for DP.

“We weren’t as good from the servicer line as I hoped we’d be and we just spotted them too many points tonight,” DP coach Ehren Hug said. “A player like Henry over there, you can’t give them too many free points or opportunities where they can get a ball to a really good player.”

Said Hancock on DP's service errors: “We’ll take whatever points we can get, really. It’s important for us to stay level. Even with bad calls and errors, we just need to know we can push through it and keep making points to win the game.”

The Chargers started the third set with a serving error and committed five more in the set. They tied the score at 17-17 but served the next ball long, leading to a three-point run by Santa Barbara. At 22-20, the Dons finished the set with three straight points, a kill by Douglas, stuff block by Roach and a kill by Rottman in transition after Douglas got his hands on a DP swing.

“This is the first time he’s played middle and he’s catching on quickly,” said Arneson of the sophomore Douglas. “It’s nice to see that. Up 22-20 in third set. I said run the ‘three (set)’ to Aiden,” Arneson told his setter. “I give Dane credit. He set that ball and we got to 23-20. That was huge, that was a big momentum lift.”

Santa Barbara was in control early in the fourth set. Douglas blocked an overpass and followed with a kill for a 7-3 lead. 

“Aiden Douglas was on fire. He had some clutch blocks and when he was set he put the ball away,” said Hancock.

But Dos Pueblos battled back and took a 12-11 lead on a kill by Owen Katz in the middle.

“They definitely showed quite a bit of heart, they fought,” said Hug of his team. “I was happy with that, but Richards Gym is a tough place to play.”

The Chargers couldn’t stop Hancock, who missed last year’s home match against DP because of a broken leg. “He scored five of Santa Barbara’s last 12 points. His 25th kill of the night tied the score at 22-all. On the next play, Westwick shot the ball over the net and DP was unable to make a play on it, giving the Dons a 23-22 lead.

Halleck sided out at 23-23, but Santa Barbara scored the final two points on a Roach spike off the block and a Rottman kill down the line.

“It was a really fun volleyball match,” said Arneson. “Everyone played well. (The Chargers) were scrappy; there were great long rallies. It could have either way. It was nice we came out on the positive end of it.”

Noozhawk sports editor Barry Punzal can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk Sports on Twitter: @NoozhawkSports. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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