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Boys Volleyball

Santa Barbara Takes Care of Business Down Stretch, Beats Dos Pueblos for Channel League VB Title

Henry Hancock goes high above the net for a spike against Dos Pueblos blocker  Marcellous Gossett. Click to view larger
Henry Hancock goes high above the net for a spike against Dos Pueblos blocker Marcellous Gossett. (JC Corliss / Noozhawk photo)

What started out as a business-like performance by the Santa Barbara High boys volleyball team turned into a mad scramble Tuesday night in the showdown at Dos Pueblos for the Channel League championship.

The host Chargers battled from a 2-0 deficit and won the third set and continued scrambling in the fourth to tie the score at 20-20. But the Dons stepped up down the stretch, tallied the last five points and pulled out an exhausting 25-20, 25-21, 19-25, 25-20 victory to wrap up the outright league title. Setter Dane Westwick blocked the last two attacks to end the match.

“Those felt really good,” said the 5-foot-11 Westwick, who has knack of coming up with key blocks in matches. “I was kind of getting worked the entire night; they were just hitting by me when I thought I had them. But it definitely felt good to get those two that actually counted. I said, ‘Two points and we win Channel League.’” 

Santa Barbara is 7-0 in league (18-6 overall) with one match remaining against Buena. Dos Pueblos is 5-2 (18-4) and finishes the regular season against Ventura.

Henry Hancock (18) and Austin Lind (25) of Santa Barbara put up a big block on Dos Pueblos middle Owen Katz. Click to view larger
Henry Hancock (18) and Austin Lind (25) of Santa Barbara put up a big block on Dos Pueblos middle Owen Katz. (JC Corliss / Noozhawk photo)

“I felt like this was a great team win,” said Santa Barbara coach Chad Arneson. “We’re not a good team, we’re a great team. It definitely took everyone to step it up. Some guys came through in certain situations when we needed them. Dane Westwick was all over the place as always. He was fantastic.”

The Dons’ attack was led by sophomore Will Rottman, who had 21 kills and hit an impressive percentage of .581. Henry Hancock had 13 kills and Ben Roach delivered 10 kills. Libero Pierce Barnes had 13 digs.

Athletic middle hitter Marcellous Gossett paced DP with 13 kills and four blocks. Curran Malhotra and James Halleck each had eight kills and Max Raphael added six.

“You got to give DP credit. They made us work for everything and made us earn it,” Arneson said.

DP coach Ehren Hug felt his team made too many mistakes.

“We just didn’t execute offensively,” he said.  “We just didn’t find the court as we usually do and sometimes in these big crosstown matches you got to wait until the first ball gets rolled out and see how it goes and weather the storm as it goes. We just struggled with the block, it was pretty big in our face. Obviously Will and Henry put some pretty big hands in our face. We kept chipping away at it, but the ball wasn’t falling as it usually does.”

The Dons came into Sovine Gym full of confidence and opened up a 17-12 lead in the first set after a Rottman ace capped a three-point run.

Gossett rallied the Chargers with kills on an overpass and and a quick set to pull them to 22-19. A Dons hitting error after a dig by Malhotra made it 22-20. 

Santa Barbara kept its composure and finished off the set by scoring the final five points. The 6-8 Austin Lind put a ball away, Rottman swatted one off a block and buried an overpass created by a Westwick serve.

The momentum carried over into the second set as the Dons roared out to a 6-2 advantage and never relinquished the lead. Again, DP rallied late, going on a three-point run to make it 22-20. The Chargers had a chance to pull within a point but they were called for a net violation. Rottman scored the last two points.

“I feel like they were kind of flat in the first two games,” Westwick said of the Chargers. “We then came out flat in the third game because we thought we had it in the bag. But they came out with a lot more energy and definitely pushed us.”

Dos Pueblos finally got its game going in the third set. Parker Crossland came in to set and provided a spark, while Raphael, Malhotra and Gossett led the charge at the net. A Raphael kill started a 5-0 run that gave the Chargers a 13-9 lead. They followed with 4-2 run for a 17-11 lead, with Malhotra and Gossett recording kills, Santa Barbara mishandling a set and then committing a hitting error.

The Dons got as close as 22-19 before Malhotra and Raphael put the set away and gave DP new life.

Will Rottman led Santa Barbara with 21 kills and a .581 hitting percentage. Click to view larger
Will Rottman led Santa Barbara with 21 kills and a .581 hitting percentage. (JC Corliss / Noozhawk photo)

The fourth set was a scramble as players started to fatigue from pushing themselves to the limit in the intense match. It was a struggle for both teams to stay in system.

“We had to grind it out,” Arneson said. “They were putting up some good blocks, they had Max (Raphael) come back and had more size on their opposite. I told our guys we had to stay aggressive instead of roll shots. We definitely had to earn every point.”

Santa Barbara took a 16-13 lead after a DP hit went wide. But the Chargers battled back and answered with three straight points on an Owen Katz block, a Gossett kill of an over-dig and a Dons hitting error.

The Chargers, however, could never take the lead. Malhotra tied the score at 18-18 but was answered by a kill from Santa Barbara’s Ben Roach. Gossett put one down to equalize at 19-19  and a solo block for 20-20. Rottman sided out with an off-speed shot for the go-ahead point and scored again after a nice play by Westwick to bring the ball out of the net. Aiden Douglas blocked a ball back to the DP side and the Chargers followed with an hitting error to make the scored 23-20. Westwick finished off DP with back-to-back blocks for points.

“We couldn’t find the court again,” Hug said of the fourth set. “We got stuck in a rotation and we couldn’t pass our way out of it as effectively as we wanted. I’m proud of my boys tonight. They were definitely into the match, into the competition for first place and they were there, but the ball just wasn’t dropping.”


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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