Cade McLean
Cade McLean, shown from a match in 2019, has been starting at middle blocker for San Marcos since is sophomore year.  (Noozhawk file photo)

It wasn’t hard to find the strength of San Marcos High’s boys volleyball attack on Thursday night at the Thunderhut. It was right there in the middle of the court, slamming balls to the hardwood or off the block for points.

Cade McLean had 13 kills and hit .500 and Parker Bittner added 10 kills and a .750 hitting percentage in a 25-18, 25-18, 25-14 sweep for the Royals. San Marcos improved to 9-2 overall and 1-0 in the Channel League. Dos Pueblos fell to 8-4 and 1-1.

McLean is a 6-3 sophomore middle blocker. Bittner, a 6-5 senior middle blocker, had six solo blocks and just one hitting error in 12 swings.

“It feels amazing to get those kills but it’s really thanks to the back row and our setter, Tanner Stevens, who dishes it out all across the court,” said McLean. “We have great coaching as well. It comes down to hard work and effort. It’s really fun to be part of a team with great upperclassmen who support us younger guys.”

The Royals enjoyed leads of 10-6, and 14-9 in the opening set before the Chargers rallied to tie it three times at 15, 16 and 17-all. Then Bittner crushed a quick-set in the middle to ignite an 8-1 game-ending run. Brennan Ware capped the 25-18 victory with a kill down the line.

Parker Bittner

Parker Bittner soars above the net during Thursday’s 3-0 win at the Thunderhut. (JC Corliss / Noozhawk photo)

The second set was close and DP pulled within one, 15-14, on a long hit by the Royals. Then San Marcos put together another streak to close out the set, this time it was 10-4. Josh Willbanks recorded his only kill of the night for the game-winning point.

Ware added nine kills for the Royals and Tyler Curt had six kills and hit .416. Jacob Yinger led in digs with 11 and Stevens had 44 assists and seven digs.

“Cade had 10 solo bocks on Tuesday against Valencia and he didn’t even play last year because he had an ACL injury,” said San Marcos coach Roger Kuntz. “I’ve been saying it all year – our middle hitters are the best, not only in the Channel League, they’re the best in every gym I walk into these days.

“We didn’t play as well as we did against Valencia. We let them hang around a little bit and our outsides were a little off. But then we started to get better in serve receive and we were playing real hard. Good things happen when you play hard.

“We have a lot of firepower, and once we got on track, we were able to overpower them. We showed excellent passing tonight and almost perfect setting.”

The Royals jumped ahead 5-0, 7-2 and 18-8 in the third set. McLean and Bittner combined for seven of those 18 points.

San Marcos middle Parker Bittner detonates on a Tanner Stevens set during Royals’ sweep over Dos Pueblos.

— NoozhawkSports (@NoozhawkSports) March 8, 2019

Jack Hogan, one of two seniors on the roster, paced the Chargers’ attack with 10 kills.

“It was a great learning experience for our team,” said Hogan. “Everyone played well. Our passing was a shaky at the beginning. They came out strong. I’m really proud of the way Matthew Kline played at the end and Philip Nordblad, our libero, started putting away some good passes.

“San Marcos has great middles. I had the pleasure of playing with Parker Bittner in club and playing against him is a whole different experience. He played really well and this was a good learning experience for our middles.”

San Marcos will host Cabrillo on Tuesday. Dos Pueblos travels to Moorpark on Wednesday, then hosts Santa Barbara on Thursday at 6 p.m.