By Jung Su Park
Photos by Matthew Scholtz
The boys’ varsity volleyball team kept its hot winning streak alive with another 3-0 set sweep against San Gabriel Academy Eagles. With this away non-league matchup victory in which the Tigers beat the Eagles 29-27, 25-12, and 25-16, South Pas rise to a seemingly unstoppable force with a 17-1-1 overall record.
South Pasadena was put in a challenging situation right from the start of the game as the home team was determined to defend the court by pulling a first set victory. Both teams showcased trades all the way to 19-19 to keep the game tight during the opening set. However, the Tigers seemed to give in to San Gabriel’s high energy displayed on both offense and defense near the end of the set, allowing the home team to make a 5-1 run that forced match point with 24-20 on the Eagles’ favor. Then South Pas coach Benjamin Diaz took a timeout on this verge of dropping the set in order to regather the team into making a comeback surge. Adjusting to the unfavorable circumstance seemed to work extremely well as South Pas scored four straight to tie the first set at 24-24. Both teams fighting to gain a two point advantage to secure the first set victory, the last few minutes of the first set were filled with intense defensive efforts of reckless dives. The Tigers ended up with the last laugh as the Eagles started to make mental errors from a stunning performance down the stretch to come up with a clutch 5-3 comeback run. South Pasadena earned its hard-fought 29-27 victory in the first set.
The boys looked more calm with the volleyball throughout the second set, carrying the momentum from a comeback victory in the first set. San Gabriel, on the other hand, appeared lackluster on both ends of the floor with low morale as the Eagles easily allowed South Pasadena points with careless errors on receiving. Sophomore Joseph Bu and junior Alex Nakagawa scored numerous aces, taking advantage of the lacking San Gabriel defense. In spite of the Eagles’ struggles, South Pasadena continued its relentless offensive plays behind senior Richard Yu and junior Greg Luck. The Tigers, not facing any difficulties, handed the Eagles a loss in the second set with 25-12 unlike the prolonged close first set that ended 29-25.
One dire problem bothered the Tigers during the third set: junior setter Max Luck sat out most of the period due to an aching knee. However, reliable reserves senior Aydin Pasebani and freshman Cole Schroeder filled in the missing roles nicely for the Tigers, creating a variety of offensive plays that the San Gabriel Eagles did not expect. South Pasadena was able to transform a disadvantage into an advantage, utilizing the available players to rally past the Eagles 25-16 in the final set.
“We walked into the San Gabriel gym with overconfidence,” Yu said. “San Gabriel stunned us in the first set although we were able to wake up and make a comeback; We learned to always play like we are down.”
The Tigers expect to grab their third win of the Rio Hondo league regular season tomorrow against Temple City at the Rams’ gym.