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Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table

Laguna Blanca’s Jon Roberts takes Athletic Round Table on World Tour

The Carpinteria contingent at the Round Table press luncheon included, from left, Annalisa DeAlba, Sam Truax, Tim Jimenez, track coach Van Latham, Bryan Taira, Gaby Fantone and Brian Buchmiller.
The Carpinteria contingent at the Round Table press luncheon included, from left, Annalisa DeAlba, Sam Truax, Tim Jimenez, track coach Van Latham, Bryan Taira, Gaby Fantone and Brian Buchmiller.  (Barry Punzal / Noozhawk photo)

After playing and coaching volleyball around the world, Jon Roberts landed at Laguna Blanca and is coaching the Owls boys volleyball team this season.

Roberts gave the Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table press luncheon a geography lesson of his travels.

“The last time I was here at the Round Table was in 1978 with San Marcos Royals volleyball,” he started. “Since then it’s been a long, strange trip for me. I played in Calgary, Canada to Catamarca, Argentina; I played from Madrid Spain to Shanghai, China; I’ve coached from Zagreb, Croatia to Menlo Park and I’ve also coached from Rutgers, Newark to Newbury Park.

At Laguna, the former UCSB star got the Owls off to a good start. They are 4-0 in regular matches, with big wins over St. Margaret’s and Viewpoint to their credit. They played at the San Luis Obispo Tournament last weekend and “got punched in the mouth a little bit,” Roberts said.

The Owls managed to advance to the consolation final, where they lost a one-game match against Ventura.

Roberts said the team learned it could play with the bigger schools. “The next step is not just play with them but beat them. And coaches, you know there’s a wide gap between those two. That’s my job, to get us over the hump.”

Roberts introduced two key member of his team, outside hitter Chris Constantino and Pierce O’Donnell, who’s been converted from a libero to the team’s setter.

Roberts said appreciates the “over-the-top” intensity O’Donnell brings. “I think I’ve had two people in my life with that kind of intensity, and the other guy is Karch Kiraly.”

San Marcos: Coach Jon Newton credits his seniors Dane Pederson, Kevin Peters and Ian McLain for the Royals “playing with a lot of heart and enthusiasm.”

He said Pederson is the team’s “go-to guy when we need a sideout.”

Peters has a 4.9 GPA and is waiting to here if he's accepted into MIT. Besides in excellence in the classroom, Newton said Peters is “an athletic playmaker that gets the team going.”

McLain, who’ll play at the next level at Grand Canyon University, is a powerful and quick middle blocker. “As soon as we start warming up, the other team notices him," Newton said. "He’s nearly hit our assistant coach two or three times in hitting lines this season and he’s standing at the one-foot line at the net."

The Royals (3-1) open Channel League on Tuesday at Ventura and host Santa Barbara on Thursday.

Dos Pueblos: Assistant coach Chris Jones said the Chargers will host their 42nd annual Dos Pueblos Invitational on Saturday at UCSB’s Thunderdome. It’s one of the longest running high school tournaments in the country.

The Chargers (5-5) rebounded from three losses in the “Pool of Death” (against Mira Costa, Mater Dei and Carlsbad) at the Best of the West Tournament in San Diego and won the Bronze Division title.

Adam Shields had 37 kills on probably 40 sets, said Jones. “He was really tremendous in the middle. He did a lot of damage for us.”

Outside hitter Eli Wopat led the way with 57 kills.

“We’re looking forward to getting a lot of action from these guys this week," said Jones.

TENNIS

UCSB Men: Coach Marty Davis said the Gauchos are off to their “best start in over a dozen years,” with wins over Pepperdine, San Diego St., Washington and Arizona.

He noted the doubles team of Miles Seemann and Nathan Eshmade is one of the best in the country.

Dos Pueblos: Coach Liz Frech introduced her two captains, Ryan Daniel and Kellen Roberts.

“Both captains energize our team and encourage closeness on the team,” she said.

Daniel is a member of the school's Santa Barbara County-champion mock trial team. Roberts is the quarterback of the football team.

Carpinteria: Speaking for coach Charles Bryant, Van Latham said the tennis team has made the greatest improvement in a season than any team in the last five years.

A lot of it is due to captains Bryan Taira and Sam Truax. Taira is a three-time All-Tri-Valley League player in doubles who will be playing singles this season. He plans to attend Chapman.

Truax, a junior, is off to 10-4 start and plays with great energy and attitude.

TRACK

San Marcos: After a dual meet with Ventura on Thursday, coach Marilyn Hantgin’s team will be hosting the second Royal Classic on Saturday.

“March is a very busy month for track and field,” she said.

Hantgin said hurdler Allie Jones and  jumper Carolyn Weisman can do several events for the team. “Wesiman carries the load for our jump squad. She only has to win all three events this week so we can beat Ventura.”

Hantgin introduced her workhorse throwers Jarrison Ball and Tlaloc Vallejo Howard. She said Ball will be earning his Eagle Scout badge on Thursday.

Santa Barbara: Assistant coach Aaron Mateski said senior Andres Castro returns after running in the CIF Finals last season as part of the 4x100 relay. Castro is a team captain.

Mateski likes the competitiveness of junior Cindy Trigueiro, a three-sport athlete who is a hurdler and a key member of relay teams.

Sophomore high jumper Madison McDaniel is a great athlete can do any event, Mateski said.

He also praised Devon Cetti, a sophomore thrower, who is prepping for a big season.

Dos Pueblos: Coach Josh Christensen said the Chargers are “young and gaining experience as we go.”

Christensen introduced sprinter Liliana Marquez, who ran a PR of 13.1 at the Ventura Invitational, and high jumper Chris Jones, who has cleared 6-2 early in the season.

The Chargers host Santa Barbara on Thursday.

Carpinteria: Coach Van Latham said the boys team is a work in progress. “We’re trying to fill out some areas of need. We’re really in need of distance runners.”

The girls team has a strong core of athletes but is short on depth, Latham said.

From the boys team, Latham said long and triple jumper Tim Jimenez is a great team leader and is off to a nice start to the season. Pole vaulter Brian Buchmiller has a PR of 12-7.

Gaby Fantone has been the No. 1 hurdler on the girls team since her freshman year. “She’s a great leader by work ethic,” said Latham, who added that Fantone is an excellent artist who plans to attend Chapman College.

Latham said he’s looking for big things from thrower Annalisa DeAlba.

SOFTBALL

UCSB: Coach Brie Galicinao said the Gauchos have been in every game this season, including eight against top-25 teams. “The reasons why we’ve been in those games are we can hit and we can pitch,” she said.

Junior Ashley Ludlow has been a standout on the mound after pitching only 12 innings over the last two seasons. She has a no-hitter this season.

San Marcos: “We’re knocking on the door with some good teams,” coach Jeff Swann said of his 4-2 Royals.

He introduced speedy left fielder Aibhlin Ryan and team captain and four-year varsity player Cara Christian.

Dos Pueblos: Coach Jon Uyesaka lauded the hitting and glove work of third baseman Anya Schmitz. “She moves her feet better than any third baseman I’ve seen in years,” he said.

Middle infielder Siena Wagner has tremendous power at the plate and a good glove, and is being recruited by several Division 1 schools. Both players are A students in the classroom.

Noozhawk sports editor Barry Punzal 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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