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Boys Volleyball

Laguna Blanca Gets It Done in 3, Advances to First CIF Boys VB Final

Philip Fauntleroy’s 19 kills lead Owls to semifinal victory over El Rancho

Philip Fauntleroy of Laguna Blanca rips a spike against El Rancho blocker Anthony Martinez during Tuesday’s CIF semifinal match.
Philip Fauntleroy of Laguna Blanca rips a spike against El Rancho blocker Anthony Martinez during Tuesday’s CIF semifinal match. (JC Corliss / Noozhawk photo)

Heading into the Wednesday night’s CIF-SS Division 5 boys volleyball semifinal, Philip Fauntleroy was well aware that this could be his last game competing for Laguna Blanca.   

However, with a thoroughly dominant performance, the senior outside hitter made sure that scenario never became a reality as he led the Owls to a 25-20, 27-25, 25-18 sweep over El Rancho before a boisterous crowd at Merovick Gym.

“Going into this one, I had huge motivation because our team had never reached a CIF final,” Fauntleroy said. “Our passing and setting was incredible tonight, which allowed me to keep putting balls down.”

With 19 kills and 3 blocks on the evening, Fauntleroy played a pivotal role in helping his team reach its first-ever championship game. The second-seeded Owls (28-4) will face No. 1 Damien in the title match on Saturday at Cerritos College.

“When we needed him tonight, he came up huge and saved us big time,” commented first-year Laguna Blanca coach John Roberts. “Philip has got a very explosive jump and led the way even when he had a well-formed block waiting for him.” 

Also stepping up big for the Owls was senior setter Pierce O’Donnell, who dished out 39 assists to go along with two aces. Senior outside hitter Chris Costantino tallied 9 kills and two aces. 

“Philip hit from everywhere on the court tonight and put down nearly every set I gave him,” O’Donnell said. “We’ve all worked super hard for this and our team is really proud.”

The semifinal win was a far contrast to Monday's quarterfinal when Laguna Blanca was on the brink of elimination and fought back from a 2-0 deficit to defeat Pacifica Christian in five sets.

"We were ready tonight and came out sharp with good serving and good passing," added coach Roberts.

During their first set victory, the Owls controlled play behind the hitting of Constantino and Henry Farrell. Middle Miles Mcgovern also contributed on quick sets and blocking El Rancho's 6-5 middle. 

Chris Constantino of Laguna Blanca hits off El Rancho’s blockers. Click to view larger
Chris Constantino of Laguna Blanca hits off El Rancho’s blockers. (JC Corliss / Noozhawk photo)

Laguna Blanca suffered a blow in the second set when its libero hit the floor hard and suffered a concussion. Taking advantage of the opportunity, the Dons jumped out to a 10-5 lead. 

Facing a potential set point while trailing 24-21, Laguna Blanca responded with a 3-0 run. Following another El Rancho score, the Owls fought back with three consecutive points to pull off a wild 27-25 win. 

“We were down to our very last breath not once but twice,” Fauntleroy added. “Yet, we’re all brothers and shared the confidence that we were going to come back and win.”

Behind Fauntleroy’s hard hitting, Laguna Blanca jumped out to a 13-8 advantage in the third set. With a sideout approach, the Owls were able to comfortably win the final set by a score of 25-18.

The Laguna Blanca boys will now try to match what the girls team accomplished in the fall -- win a CIF-SS championship.

“When my Dad played at Santa Barbara High, his team got to the CIF Finals and lost,” said Costantino. “With this in mind, I’ve always wanted to reach that same stage and get a championship victory."

— Noozhawk sports reporter Blake DeVine can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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