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Girls Volleyball

San Marcos Has Too Many Weapons for Santa Barbara

Ellie Gamberdella and Brynn Sofro Click to view larger
San Marcos blockers Ellie Gamberdella, left, and Brynn Sofro get a touch on a Santa Barbara attack. (Gary Kim / Noozhawk photo)

San Marcos unleashed two more weapons to its already potent volleyball attack in a sweep over Santa Barbara High at Maury Halleck Gym on Tuesday night,

Sophomores Taylor Wilson and Madison Oriskovich set the tone in the first set with some big hits on the outside, and the Royals took care of business, 25-17, 25-18, 25-16, against a scrappy Dons squad to move to 6-0 in league. Santa Barbara is 3-3.

Wilson hit a heavy ball and was one of the kill leaders for San Marcos with six. Middle Kristine Fimlaid led the way with nine kills and Brynn Sofro and Kendall Williams each had seven.

Wilson started a six-point run by the Royals that gave them a 19-10 lead in the first set. Williams finished off the set with a pair of crushing spikes.

“It was great to see those sophomores come out,” San Marcos coach Tina Brown said of Wilson and Oriskovich. “They are pretty explosive players and we wanted to put them in this environment to get them ready — how are you going to respond in this situation? — and they did a really good job.”

While the Royals blasted balls from all over,  the Dons played better than in their first-round meeting. They started well and played good defense to make San Marcos work for its points.

“Santa Barbara is always solid. They always attack the ball pretty consistently,” Brown said. “We know we’re going to have more than one-ball-over-the-net rallies with them. That makes it really fun. 

taylor Robertson Click to view larger
Taylor Robertson of Santa Barbara passes a serve during Channel League match against San Marcos. (Gary Kim / Noozhawk photo)

“You can’t beat the rivalry.”

Santa Barbara coach Ariana Garner felt one of the differences between the two teams is the number of players who play club indoor volleyball.

“We have two kids who play club volleyball,” she said. “In the fall, my team shows up, we play the four months of our season and that’s it.

“It’s a testament to San Marcos and all those girls. They play every month all year round. They capitalize when they need to and you can just tell that they’re a well-oiled machine and they get a lot of touches throughout the year.

“We played great volleyball tonight, however," she continued. "The difference is 90 percent of those girls are playing year round compared to 15 percent of our girls.”

The Royals were pounding balls in the second set and roared to a 19-9 lead.  Setter Ellie Gamberdella combined with Fimlaid and Sofro in the middle and Bella Johnson, Williams, and Wilson on the outside for points. And, if that wasn’t enough, libero Grace Mathews made several diving digs that resulted in putaway spikes.

Brown raved about the ball control of Williams.

"Kendall Williams, offensively, she was pretty good, but she was amazing passing for us. She had a great passing night,” said Brown.

Santa Barbara kept the third set close behind the hitting of Reese Kelley and Georgia Brace and the defense of Hayden Randolph, Kelley and Devan Randolph

 Kelley led the team with six kills, Brace and Avalon Gagnon added five apeice.

The Dons took a 9-7 lead on an Annabel Caeser tip, but San Marcos answered with a three-point run on kills by Sofro and Fimlaid and a service ace by Sofro.

A side out by Gagnon, a tip by Brace and a Kelley service ace pulled Santa Barbara even a 12-12.

A Dons’ service error followed by Fimlaid’s block of an overpass gave San Marcos the lead for good at 14-12. 

Santa Barbara pulled to within one at 16-15 before the Royals erupted for five straight points. Jayne Wood, another potent hitter for San Marcos, provided a pair of kills and Johnson served two aces during the run.

Santa Barbara played without senior outside hitter Chloe Mauceri, who is still recovering from a concussion.

The Dons turned in a solid effort on defense. The Randolph sisters and Kelley combined for 30 digs.

“Defense was one of the biggest things we focused on,” said Garner. “Really proud of the way our girls fought the entire time. San Marcos is a great team and they’ve had the same system for the last four years. Hat’s off to them, they’re a really good team.”

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