Photos by Lelani Sholtz
The South Pas volleyball team suffered its first loss in Rio Hondo League after falling in four sets at home to the La Cañada Spartans today. The Tigers began the matchup with a 25-21 first set win but couldn’t close out the remaining sets as La Cañada took three straight victories with scores of 25-21, 25-19, and 25-22. This also marks the first league game the Tigers have lost since 2012.
The first set began with two kills by senior Greg Luck after both spikes made contact with the Spartan players and flew out of bounds. Junior Gunther Vaden also connected with the volleyball for a kill down the middle for a 3-0 lead. The Spartans quickly fired back with kills of their own but had difficulty serving as two serve errors allowed the Tigers to maintain the lead. As the game went on, neither side backed down with the largest deficit between the two teams being two points. Seven lead changes would occur between the Tigers and Spartans until a Luck block distanced the score to 20-17 with South Pas in the lead. An ace from Vaden would put the set out of reach for La Cañada at 23-20 with Luck capping off the set with two more kills for a score of 25-21.
Heading into the second set, South Pas kept its momentum high after a Vaden kill lit up the scoreboard. Senior Matthew Ng provided two more points for the Tigers with a block, followed by a monster kill to set the score to 5-3. La Cañada managed to slowly pull away after a string of kills and blocks put the score at 10-7. Coach Ben Diaz called a timeout to reform the Tigers’ strategy, but it would have little effect for South Pas as a Spartan ace barely in the regulation line increased the deficit between the two teams. The Tigers would spend the rest of the set behind on the scoreboard and lose 25-21.
South Pas had trouble returning from its previous set loss and couldn’t match the Spartans energy in the third set. La Cañada once again pulled away on the scoreboard with the help of outside hitter Jackson Harbolt, who the Tigers’ defense had no answer to. South Pas would be forced to call another timeout with the score at 18-10 to try and regain its intensity seen in the first set. The Tigers began to chip away at the Spartans lead and saw themselves down 23-19 but unable to make any headway and fell two possessions later with the score at 25-19.
La Cañada’s height advantage began to have an effect on the smaller Tiger players after spikes from South Pas were met with block after block from the Spartans. Clutch defensive performances from senior Alex Nakagawa and junior Matthew Scholtz helped the Tigers stay close on the scoreboard at 17-15 with the Spartans in the lead but unable to take the lead. Junior Joseph Bu contributed a South Pas ace to give the Tigers their first lead of the set at 20-19. Two Luck kills helped tie the set at 22-22 but the Spartans height advantage once again played an integral role for La Cañada and allowed them to close off the set at 25-22.
South Pas is now 2-1 in RHL play. The Tigers hope to bounce back from their loss to La Cañada, with a victory against Temple City High School at home on Thursday, April 12.