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Boys Volleyball

San Marcos Plays Its “A” Game, Sweeps Santa Barbara

Libero Andrew Giller provides the spark for Royals

Tanner Stevens feeds Parker Bittner Click to view larger
San Marcos setter Tanner Stevens feeds middle Parker Bittner for a middle attack against Santa Barbara. Bittner had nine kills and Stevens handed out 42 assists.  (Cade McLean photo)

The terrific defense and passing of libero Andrew Giller set the tone for a San Marcos boys volleyball team that turned in a stellar performance in posting a rare sweep of Santa Barbara High in a Channel League match Thursday night at Maury Halleck Gym. 

The scores were 25-23, 25-22, 25-18.

The result leaves San Marcos and Santa Barbara at 3-1 at the completion of the first round of league play. The Royals are 9-7 overall the Dons 13-7.

Ryder Rivadeneyra goes one on one against Dons Click to view larger
Outside hitter Ryder Rivadeneyra prepares to slam a spike for San Marcos. (Cade McLean photo)

Giller’s digging frustrated the Dons all night and his solid passing gave setter Tanner Stevens plenty of options to choose from on the attack. Stevens dished out 42 assists while Giller picked up 17 digs and served five straight points to close out the third set and the match.

The Royals’ bench erupted onto the court to celebrate with the starters and the players hoisted freshman Jacob Yinger, who made some key contributions in the win.

"It's incredible," senior outside hitter Clay Nerdin said of winning in a sweep. "We've lost to them in the past and it's been really hard on us. But to come back here and play as a team, it really felt good."

It was a total team effort by San Marcos. Nerdin paced a balanced attack with 18 kills, Ryder Rivadeneyra put away 12 and Fred Ysebrands and middle Parker Bittner each had nine.

Nerdin credited the ball control of Giller as a key to the win.

"He was passing amazing. He gave us nice passes where we could get good sets and get off good hits, so that was really helpful for us." Nerdin said.

Will Rottman’s 15 kills led Santa Barbara, while Sam Meister and Ben Roach had seven and six, respectively. The Dons got little production from their middles.

Santa Barbara was coming off a four-set win at Dos Pueblos on Tuesday.

"It was an emotion week, a tough grind-out week, but no excuses," said Santa Barbara coach Chad Arneson. "San Marcos kicked out butt, fair and square. They beat us in all facets of the game -- defense, their offense was a lot smoother, they didn't quit on a lot of plays. They made the plays you're going to have to make to beat good teams."

San Marcos recovered from a slow start in the first set, outscoring the Dons 6-1 to take an 8-6 lead. The teams traded leads throughout the set until the Royals scored consecutive points to take a 23-22 lead. Nerdin hit one through the block for the 24th point, but Rottman sided out for the Dons.

Stevens went back to Nerdin on the left pin and he smartly hit an off-speed shot off the block for the winning point.

"We've practicing a lot on not necessarily swinging the hardest but making smart plays and think about what we do before bouncing it away," said Nerdin.

"Their outside hitters, both of them, didn't make any mistakes," Arneson said. "They were on fire; we couldn't block them."

A bad return off a blistering serve by Nerdin set up a Stevens shoot-set to Bittner in the middle to give the Royals a 14-10 lead in the second set.

Santa Barbara battled back behind the hitting of the freshman Meister, closing the gap to 16-15.

Rivadeneyra sided out on a Stevens back set and the Royals picked up two more points on a Santa Barbara hitting error and a Ysebrands kill off the block to go up 19-15.

The Dons cut the deficit to one (21-20) before the Royals outscored them 4-2 down the stretch. Nerdin delivered for the 22nd point and Stevens fed Rivadeneyra on a well-executed combination play to make it 23-20.

Stevens dumped for the 24th point and Rivadeneyra scored the final point after a dig by Giller.

"I play with a lot of these guys on club, so it's always fun to have this little rivalry and play each other," Giller said. "I came in knowing a little bit how their hitters hit and stuff. I really wanted to be on lock tonight... it's Santa Barbara."

With the momentum all on its side, San Marcos opened up an 8-4 lead in the third set and expanded it to 15-8 on kills by Ysebrands, Nerdin and Rivadeneyra and a solo block by Bittner.

"A shout out to our setter Tanner Stevens for running a great offense," said Giller. "We were really trying to run our middles tonight because we knew that would be to our advantage."

A kill and ace serve by Roach sparked a 6-2 Santa Barbara run to make it 17-16. 

Ysebrands side out for San Marcos and got a touch on a Rottman spike, which the Royals converted into a Nerdin kill.

"They frustrate us with their defense and they were getting hands on every ball," Arneson said. "We were getting a little discombobulated as far as our offense and where to set. I think some of our hitters have to be smarter. Dane (Westwick) is doing the best he can as far as his sets, but we also have to start keeping the ball in play."

He praied the play of Giller

"Andrew Giller is the real deal. He was all over the place. I kept telling my guys to not serve the libero and we kept serving the libero," Arneson said.

Rottman came back and sided out and combined with Weswick on a block to again make it a one-point game at 19-18.

Nerdin crushed a Stevens set for a side out and Giller served the last five points, finishing the match with an ace.

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