Photos by Tucker Judkins
The boys’ varsity volleyball team defeated the San Marino Titans on its home court in four sets last Tuesday, March 29. The Tigers claimed a 25-16 first set victory but fell in the second set by a score of 26-24. South Pas would recover and close out the match with set scores of 25-18 and 25-23 for a 3-1 win.
South Pasadena appeared to have every advantage from the beginning. Junior Lucas Fox serviced the first spike of the game past the Titan blockers for a Tiger kill. San Marino countered back with a tricky corner kill. Senior Greg Luck immediately fired back with an attackof his own in response to the Titans. Senior Matthew Ng would follow Luck’s example by spiking to maintain the team’s intensity as well as surprise the unprepared San Marino defense. Junior Joseph Bu stepped up for the Tigers with four consecutive aces to extend South Pasadena’s lead to 10-5, which was followed by a kill from junior Matt Scholtz. The Tigers never looked back and closed out the set with a score of 25-16.
The Tigers seemed to miss a key component to their offense. Errors and blocked kills allowed San Marino to take a 6-2 lead over South Pas. Luck provided crucial points for the Tigers but would still be hampered by the Titans lockdown blocking. Now down 15-9, South Pas was forced to call a timeout and adjust its offensive strategy. Coming back on the court, the Tigers slowly eased their way back into the game to bring the score to 22-20 with South Pas down. A monster kill from junior Gunther Vaden put the game in reach for the Tigers. Luck would tie the match up at 24-24 but South Pas wouldn’t be able to close the set off after an error along with a San Marino kill set the score at 26-24.
After losing the second set, the Tigers returned in the third determined to retaliate against their school rival. This would come in the form of a Fox kill in the opening seconds of the set. Scholtz would fire back the next possession along with Luck tallying up his first ace of the game for a 4-1 score. San Marino responded with clutch blocking to regain the momentum on the court. Senior Alex Nakagawa contributed an ace to South Pas for a score of 8-8. Titan outside hitter Ryan Lew set the tone in San Marino’s favor after a three kill scoring frenzy along with a block put the deficit to four points. Vaden would end the team’s scoring drought with an ace to help the Tigers regain the lead. A huge block by Ng would set the score to 15-12, with South Pas slowly pulling away. Precise serving and an ace from Bu would help the Tigers finish the set with a score of 25-18.
The fourth set began with both teams scoring points from each other’s errors. South Pas looked to close out the day while the Titans were desperate to send the game into a fifth set. The score would be tied at 19-19 with neither side backing down. Vaden would make contact with the volleyball and tally up two kills plus an ace to take the initiative. San Marino managed to crawl its way back and tie the game again at 23-23. A crucial kill by Luck would give the Tigers the advantage and set up fellow teammate sophomore Cole Schroeder for an ace to cap off the set at 25-23.
“Although we lost a set to our rival and made it closer than it should have been, we still played hard until the end and ended up beating our rival,” Ng said. “It still felt accomplishing as it was a win but specifically a win against our league rivals.”
The Tigers will face off against La Cañada High School in its next matchup, at home on Thursday, March 31. In the previous season, South Pas defeated the Spartans in both games for a 2-0 record.