Kristine Fimlaid, SanMarcos
Kristine Fimlaid of San Marcos hits past Santa Barbara blockers Reese Kelley, left, and Georgia Brace. (Gary Kim / Noozhawk photo)

The energy of the first San Marcos-Santa Barbara High girls crosstown volleyball match in Channel League brought out the best in Brynn Sofro and the Royals at J.R. Richards Gym on Thursday night.

Sofro put balls away and blocked in the middle, dug balls in the back row and served tough in sparking San Marcos to a 25-20, 25-13, 25-17 sweep in the league opener.

“She’s playing all the way around, which has really worked for her,” San Marcos coach Tina Brown said of Sofro.

Sofro put the finishing touches in the first set, stuff blocking for the 23rd point, terminating a rally with a kill from the middle for the 24th point and ending the set with a kill from the right side. 

In the third set, she had a sequence where she soft-blocked a ball and then hit it back for a kill. 

She finished the night with five kills, six blocks and two aces. 

San Marcos (7-5, 1-0) had too much going in the middle with Sofro and Kristine Fimlaid. Fimlaid led the team with eight kills and had three blocks.

Kendall Williams hitting

Kendall Williams of San Marclos rips a ball off the hand of Santa Barbara blocker Georgia Brace. (Gary Kim / Noozhawk photo)

“Kristine is just coming off an injury,” Brown said. “She’s been pretty dynamic. Our team is totally perfect with her because she’ll run things and she’ll split the blockers so we get Kendall (Williams) one on one on the outside.”

Williams and Bella Johnson each had seven kills from the outside.

Brown praised the work of setter Ellie Gamberdella.

“Ellie does such a good job spreading out the offense. We were really balanced.

“Our whole goal has been finishing games with aggressive play — stay aggressive the whole way through. We did a great job tonight,” she said. 

Gamberdella was aided by the team’s steady ball control on serve receive and in transition.

“Our transition was pretty on point,” said Brown, who lauded the play of libero Grace Mathews.

“We’ll purposely channel (the balls) to her because she gets it right on the money on defense,” said Brown.

Brynn Sofro was a force in the middle for San Marcos in a sweep over Santa Barbara in the Channel League opener.

— NoozhawkSports (@NoozhawkSports) September 7, 2018

Santa Barbara had trouble with its ball control. The Dons (4-9, 0-1) were only down 12-10 before Williams went on a nine-point serving run for San Marcos in the first set.  

“We came out a little flat tonight,” said Dons coach Ariana Garner. “Playing your rival and your friends, I think we let it get the best of us. I don’t think we performed to our potential tonight. However, we had a few sparks here and there.”

In the second set, the Dons gave up an eight-point serving run by Gamberdella.

“Our offense needs to capitalize,” Garner said. “When we’re struggling in serve receive, it’s really important that our hitters are being dynamic. We couldn’t capitalize offensively when the set was there and the pass was there.”

Outside hitters Chloe Mauceri and Reese Kelley led the Dons’ attack with seven kills apiece. Middle Georgia Brace led with three blocks, Mauceri had two blocks and Kelley was the team’s dig leader with six.

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Barry Punzal, Sports Editor

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