By Jung Su Park
Photos by Matt Scholtz
The boys’ volleyball team has been sharp in its last few matches and tournaments, and did not fail to do so against the El Rancho Dons today at home, claiming a 3-0 victory. South Pas dropped El Rancho in defence of their home court, improving to a 3-0 preseason record. Senior Richard Yu and junior Greg Luck showcased dominant offensive performances with 12 and 10 kills, respectively. Junior Matthew Ng provided a fierce spark with quality contributions of five kills and one block.
South Pas quickly established a 7-4 lead, which soon grew to 11-5, and finally 25-15 in the first set. Junior Max Luck filled in his role nicely as the setter, assisting outside hitters to give the El Rancho defense a challenge. Yu and both of the Lucks’ powerful kills throughout the opening set proved overwhelming for the Dons. The visiting team could not find its offensive game.The majority of the Dons’ points came from South Pasadena’s errors in blocking, serving, and kill attempts. The Tigers completed their opening set rout of El Rancho with a score of 25-15, after Yu ran the distance of half the volleyball court to smash the ball toward a wide open zone in the Dons’ territory.
The Tigers looked to carry their momentum gained from the first set into the second, and did just that. South Pas’ defense was devastating for the visiting squad’s offensive efforts, as the Dons had obvious trouble finding any foothold. Junior liberos Alex Nakagawa and Scott Kawakami teamed up to dig most of El Rancho’s kill attempts, which led up to numerous sets and kills for the Tigers. Once again, the Dons’ points came almost entirely from Tiger mistakes. South Pas had no trouble in cruising past the second set, finishing 25-14 .
Coach Ben Diaz rotated bench players, such as sophomores Lucas Fox and Gunther Vaden and freshman Cole Schroeder, into the lineup throughout the third set. The Dons, looking to avoid the embarrassment of a three set sweep, stepped up their game on both the offensive and defensive end. On the contrary to the first two sets, the Tigers and the Dons traded point for point until at the scoreboard read 14-14. At this point, the Tigers were at risk of giving up their sweep. However, the home squad regathered itself after a trick play that led to a huge Paul Novak kill that reignited the fire. From then on, the Tigers focused and ultimately completed the three set victory with the final set score of 25-21.
“In this game, we hit more aggressively which led to more kills,” Ng said. “With an easier opponent, we decided to be more assertive with harder spikes to improve our hitting which may have led to more frequent mistakes.“
South Pasadena’s next event is on Thursday, March 26, in which the Tigers face the La Canada Spartans to open up the Rio Hondo League regular season at home.