By Jung Su Park
Assoc. Sports Editor
Photos by Tucker Judkins
The boys’ volleyball team was eliminated from the CIF-SS Division II playoffs by the Camarillo Scorpions on Thursday, May 14, as South Pas dropped the second round matchup 1-3 by set scores of 18-25, 25-18, 17-25, and 21-25. South Pasadena concluded its 2014-2015 season campaign with a Rio Hondo League championship title and a 23-1-2 overall record.
The first set was a difficult one for the Tigers. Camarillo stepped up its gameplay especially on blocking, giving the Tiger hitters an extremely difficult time penetrating the Scorpion defense to score off of kills. Such a trend forced South Pas to allow Camarillo a quick 10-7 edge. Tiger coach Benjamin Diaz took a timeout to regroup his players and try to reduce errors, however, the home team kept its hot streak on defense to further woes for the visiting squad. The Tigers saw themselves down 20-12 despite efforts to change up their game plan. South Pas could not find a way to counter Camarillo’s strong blocking, eventually dropping the first set 18-25.
Momentum completely switched to the Tigers’ favor throughout the second set as South Pas aggressively outplayed the home team in order to bounce back from the first set loss. Great team play by the Tigers put them up 6-4 early, but the Scorpions came roaring back to tie the game back at seven apiece. Camarillo continued to play well, and went up 11-8. However, junior Greg Luck came up with a huge kill to tie the game back up. Sophomore Gunther Vaden then had a towering block on a Camarillo kill attempt, and junior Max Luck smashed a kill to put the Tigers up 17-14. The Tigers showed improved offense in the second period and established a comfortable five point edge at 19-14, forcing a Camarillo timeout heading into the crunch time. South Pas never looked back from this point on, finishing out the set 25-18 after a great kill by Greg Luck to even the series at 1-1.
Camarillo responded to the second set loss with strong offensive firepower that the Scorpions had put up against the Tigers during the first set. South Pas allowed the home team to build an edge right from the start, trailing Camarillo 2-5 then 6-10. Early in the third set, the Tigers’ only offensive light came from Greg Luck as he continued to score kills past the Camarillo defenders. However, the Tigers struggled to find rhythm and consistency in their plays and scored mostly off of Camarillo mistakes in hitting and serving. South Pas gave into the Scorpions’ hot blocking streak and ended up losing 25-17 despite the Tiger desperation heave.
Winning the fourth set was crucial for the Tigers to force a final fifth period and avoid elimination. Vaden strategically tipped the ball past the Camarillo blockers to take first blood. Sophomore Matthew Scholtz provided quality playing time for the Tigers and contributed to the effort, pulling a kill to keep the match even early in the fourth at 3-3. South Pas reverted to its mistakes that the Tigers made in their previous sets, mishitting and miscommunicating on receiving to go down 9-6. However, the visiting squad charged toward a comeback as senior Paul Novak stuffed down a Camarillo outside hitter’s kill attempt to send the Tiger crowd into a frenzy and spark momentum at 13-15 with South Pas down two. The Tigers saw themselves only down two at 21-19 heading into the clutch after Greg Luck made a huge block to keep South Pas’s hopes alive, however, crucial errors down the stretch finished the Tiger season as the home team Camarillo Scorpions won the fourth set 25-21 to grab the four-set victory and advance to the quarterfinals of the postseason.
The loss concludes the Tigers’ 2014-2015 season. While the result of the match is disappointing, the Tiger team proved that it can compete in higher divisions. The team is looking to make a more significant mark on DII playoffs next year.