Boys’ volleyball triumphs over El Rancho in four sets

By Ryan Nakamura

Staff Writer

The boys’ varsity volleyball team closed out its preseason with a four-set victory against El Rancho High School today on the road. South Pas struggled in the first set after losing 25-21 but made a comeback in the final three sets at 25-17, 25-22 and 25-19.

An El Rancho block on South Pas would mark the start of the game. The Tigers would fire back with a kill by senior Greg Luck who set the South Pas offense in motion. Junior Gunther Vaden would follow Luck’s example with a kill of his own to set the tone of the game. Three errors by the El Ranchos would extend the Tigers lead to 6-4. South Pas would lose its offensive edge after committing numerous errors in the Dons backcourt, setting the score at 8-8. From here, South Pas would trail behind the Dons for the rest of the set. The Tigers would go ice cold on the scoreboard and fall behind. Junior Matt Scholtz provided an energetic kill alongside Vaden to put the Tigers inch closer at 20-17. Luck’ skillful serve brought the score to 18-20, but South Pas couldn’t recover the deficit and fell 25-21 after a Dons kill slid past the defense.

The Tigers were determined not to make the same mistake in the first set and quickly adjusted in the second set. Two back to back blocks by Luck and junior Lucas Fox allowed South Pas to get on the scoreboard. The Dons would take the initiative with a 5-2 score over the Tigers. South Pas would fire back with a 4-0 run of their own to close the gap in the lead. From here the game went back and forth with Luck making a three kill run only to be answered back by the El Rancho hitters. An ace by Luck would open the door for South Pas to take the lead at 15-14. A clutch save by senior Alex Nakagawa would set up Luck for a powerful kill and keeping a constant lead of three points or more over El Rancho. The Tigers would continue this level of intensity throughout the set and clinch the set at 25-17.

Coming back in the third set the Tigers faced trouble with multiple errors and allow the Dons to take a 7-2 lead. After calling a timeout to settle the the team’s play style, South Pas slowly began come back from the Dons’ lead at 11-9. Points exchanged between the two teams with the Tigers in command at 22-20. Luck would lead South Pas in a final run to complete the set victory at 25-22 with the Tigers up 2-1.

The fourth set began with South Pas running into similar problems as the previous sets. Costly errors would hamper the Tigers momentum while the El Rancho hitters began to capitalize on the Tigers mistakes for a tie game at 12-12. A Don’s errors would force a timeout from the home team but South Pas still had trouble with defensive and serving errors, allowing El Rancho to take the lead at 17-15.  A Vaden block would reignite the Tigers momentum and allow South Pas to take the lead. Sophomore Fernando Sornoso would tally up a crucial ace to set the score at 24-19, and allow the Tigers to cap off the game at 25-19.

South Pasadena will open Rio Hondo League play against the Gabrielino Eagles away, on Thursday, March 24.