SBCC recorded a season-high 15 aces on Wednesday night in a 3-0 sweep of L.A. Pierce at the Sports Pavilion. The scores were 25-18, 25-12, 25-13.
It was the first home appearance in 26 days for the fourth-ranked Vaqueros (6-2, 3-0), who upset No. 1 Orange Coast back on Feb. 7 in their only home match. SBCC won its sixth in a row and took over sole possession of first in the WSC, a half-game ahead of Long Beach (2-0).
After playing six of the first seven matches on the road, the Vaqueros will be home for six of their next seven.
Freshman outside hitter Keoni Thiim led a balanced attack with six kills. Luke Hetherington added four kills and six blocks and Brigg Busenhart chipped in with four kills, three blocks and two aces off the bench.
The Vaqueros overcame a slow start with an 11-3 run in the first set and took an 18-12 lead on a crosscourt kill from the 10-foot line by Calvin Sanborn and a long hit by Pierce (2-2, 1-2).
Setter Kyle Merchen ripped four straight aces as the Vaqueros jumped ahead 6-0 in the second set. They also led 9-2, 14-5 and 20-11. Busenhart capped the 25-12 win with an ace serve.
“We had good passing tonight with a new libero [Kevin Ham] in the lineup who was phenomenal,” said Merchen, a 6-4 freshman from Buchanan High in Fresno. “And our regular libero, Carson Schmick, did a great job too. So props to our passers. Keoni was hitting the ball like he usually does and we had our big middles in there.”
And what about those four aces in a row?
“It’s not about me,” said Merchen. “Coach has done a good job of working with me and my teammates on the side were pumping me up. It’s all energy for me. If I feel the crowd and I feel my teammates supporting me, I go for it.”
The Vaqueros hit .389 in the second set and .357 in the third with just two errors in each set. They dominated the third set, building leads of 7-1, 12-3 and 17-7. Left-hander Aaron Letvin came off the bench to serve three straight aces and extend the lead to 20-7.
Letvin leads the state in aces per set (0.76) and Hetherington is No. 1 in blocks per set (1.19).