Jenna MacFarlane and her San Marcos girls volleyball teammates asserted themselves from the start of Tuesday’s rivalry match and never let up in sweeping Santa Barbara, 25-12, 25-18, 25-18, before a boisterous crowd at J.R. Richards Gym.
MacFarlane set the tone for the Royals, hammering 20 kills on 47 attempts with no hitting errors.
MacFarlane is the center point of the San Marcos attack, but Royals co-coach Dwayne Hauschild noted the game plan wasn’t to focus solely on her.
“I don’t know if it was the game plan coming in but certainly she is the strength of our team, she’s the backbone of our offense,” he said. “She was phenomenal. The first two sets I don’t think she missed one ball. She had kill after kill, it was awesome.”
It was a huge result for the Royals. No. 1, it was their first in Channel League play after two defeats. And, second, it came on the home court of their crosstown rival.
San Marcos took control of the match early, roaring out to 15-5 advantage in the first set behind a seven-point serving run by Erin Holehouse.
MacFarlane closed out the first set with kills on three of the last five points.
“Jenna had a great game,” Santa Barbara coach John Gannon said. “She’s been on this stage before.”
Santa Barbara regrouped in the second set and kept the score close until the Royals went on a six-point run to open up a 17-8 lead.
MacFarlane continued to bury balls to start the third set as the Royals jumped out to a 9-0 advantage. Santa Barbara fought back behind the hitting of Chloe Mauceri and a couple of ace serves from Linnea Skinner and pulled to within 20-18. But MacFarlane started a four-point run with a kill, and the Dons hit the ball out for the final point.
“We had a real tough time controlling the ball,” Gannon said. “A lot of credit to San Marcos for serving tough. We just didn’t control the ball tonight. That was frustrating.
“We’ve played some good volleyball this year at times and we controlled the ball and passed well, but it just didn’t happen tonight.”
San Marcos got contributions from several players in the sweep. Kristine Fimlaid and Molly Kirkbride combined for seven kills in the middle, Addy Colburn had four kills, three blocks and 10 assists and Taylor Hantgin dished out 22 assists.
“When you see kids engage to do some of the things we ask them to do, it makes you happy when they make those changes,” Hauschild said of the improved play from the middles.
He gave props to Hantgin as a key to the team’s success.
“Having somebody like Taylor Hantgin, who’s never run an offense at the varsity level, that kid and Addy set phenomenal, so it made everybody really, really good. I couldn’t believe that little sophomore who played JV last year as her first time setting volleyballs comes in a varsity match in a hostile gym like Santa Barbara and plays phenomenal, with some of the decisions and some of the balls she put up there for our girls. Everybody got a little bit of that.”
Gannon said playing on the big stage of a rivalry match might have affected some of his players
“That’s a good learning lesson for high school kids,” he said. “A great environment, which is what you want in a rivalry match, with the crowd, the excitement, the energy level in the gym, and the girls needed to seize the moment and it didn’t happen. This is something everyone at some point has to go through and, hopefully, we’ll get better after this.”
Santa Barbara (1-1 in league) got six kills from Mauceri and five from Erika Foreman.