By Jung Su Park
The boys’ varsity volleyball team upset the San Marcos Royals on Tuesday, March 10, with the Tigers coming away as five-set victors. South Pas and San Marcos consistently traded sets back and forth until the Tigers pulled away with a clutch performance during the fifth and final set.
The Royals made a statement in the opening set as the Tigers committed numerous hitting and blocking errors, giving the Royals early lead. The home team’s control of the volleyball was smooth right from the start as its setups for kills and the Tigers were having difficulties in receiving and returning their offensive attempts. The Tigers found themselves down one set with the scoreboard reading 25-20 before the second set.
In the second set, however, the Tigers recuperated and bounced back after giving up the first set. South Pasadena made improvements to its game plan and did not make the same mistakes that the team made in the opening set as the Tigers picked up the hitting and setting to give the Royal defense a hard time. Junior Max Luck blocked three Royal kill attempts in a row to completely gain full control of the set’s momentum. Also, outside attack from senior Richard Yu and junior Greg Luck continuously scored for the visiting Tigers to win the period 25-19, evening the best three out of five series to 1-1.
Despite having a successful second set to counter the slow start in the first, the flow of the game during the third set reflected that of the first set as South Pas made careless, defensive mistakes in serve returns to let the Royals easily score. On offense, the Tigers’ coordination between setting and hitting was slightly off and the ball flew right behind the boundary line to give up points to San Marcos. South Pasadena scored 19 points while allowing San Marcos 25 points to lose the third set and go down 2-1 in the series.
One more loss at the 25-point set meant defeat for the whole game and the fourth set was a must-win for the Tigers as they saw themselves down 2-1. While the San Marcos Royals were looking to finish off the game with a fourth set win, the South Pasadena Tigers put up an intense fight to keep their hopes alive. Both teams showcased strong performances in both offense and defense and no team could fully capture the momentum on its side. South Pasadena and San Marcos kept trading point-for-point as the score was tied six times during the period. However, the Tigers converted a two-point surge off tough serving from Yu late in the fourth set to top the Royals 25-23 and equal the series 2-2.
The first team to reach fifteen points with at least a two point lead in the fifth set would win the match. South Pas started the crunch time with a strong outing in serving to open up an early lead. The home team looked to make a run for a comeback from the deficit, but the Tigers were focused and did not allow that to happen. Junior defensive specialist Scott Kawakami and junior libero Alex Nakagawa spread the floor well to effectively resist the Royal offense and help South Pasadena to complete the series comeback with a 15-10 victory in the fifth set and win the game 3-2.
The win marked the first time South Pasadena has beaten the San Marcos Royals after losing twice to them last year, both in shut-out victories.
“The game was a lot closer than I expected it to be but that really just made the match all the more exciting,” junior Teodore Davis said. “This hard-fought and well-deserved victory to start off our season was a result of strong team effort.”
The Tigers now stand at 1-0 overall to start the season and look to win two straight at home against La Salle High School on Thursday.