On Tuesday, San Marcos needed to win to tie. On Friday night, the Royals needed to win to break that tie and qualify for the 2008 CIF Championship. In both matches, San Marcos bested Ventura by a bit in game one, and by a bunch in games two and three. Ventura had beaten the Royals in four games earlier this season.

“We seem to have found a formula for stability,” head coach Jon Lee said in his final campaign, after 23 years at the Royals’ helm. “The errors we were making earlier in the season have vanished, and our offense is for real.”

Junior phenom Andrew Grimes drilled 23 kills Friday with only three errors in the 25-23, 24-16, 25-20 win at Ventura. He had seven kills from the back row as he bludgeoned ball after ball whenever the Cougars would attempt to surge back.

Senior middle David Bastomski added four stuff blocks for the Royals, several at crucial points to stablize San Marcos late in games.

Frank Nordin, who erupted against Ventura on Tuesday, did not play Friday because of a swollen knee hurt in Thursday’s win over Buena. He was replaced by junior Jon Newton, who notched two stuffs and some solid kills.

Michael York (seven kills) and Erik Holliday (five) sustained the consistent setting that has characterized the “new look” Royals. York broke an 18-18 tie in game three with four-straight service winners to take control of the deciding set.

San Marcos enters CIF as the third-place team in the Channel League, behind undefeated champion Santa Barbara and Dos Pueblos. CIF pairings will be announced Sunday afternoon and first-round action begins Wednesday.