Santa Barbara High will send three boys’ teams into CIF Southern Section championship contests to top off a fruitful spring sports season.
Volleyball: The second-seeded Dons will take on top-ranked Valencia in the Division II final at 5 p.m. Saturday, May 24, at Cal State Dominguez Hills.
Tennis: The Dons will play Irvine University in the Division I finals Wednesday, May 28, at 2 p.m. at the Claremont Club.
Golf: Led by senior Andrew Perez, the Southern Section individual champion, the Dons will compete in the CIF/Southern California Golf Association regional tournament on Thursday, May 29, at the SCGA Golf Course in Murrieta.
The volleyball team advanced to the final by outlasting its nemesis, Corona del Mar, in a thrilling see-saw match Wednesday night at Santa Barbara’s J.R. Richards Gym. The Dons rallied from deep deficits in games two and four, winning both to force a deciding fifth game. They prevailed by scores of 16-25, 26-24, 22-25, 25-17 and 19-17. So close was the match that in the end that each team had scored 108 points. The last two were registered by Chris Pratt of the Dons. The final game went beyond the 15-point finish line because neither team could achieve a two-point lead. With the score tied at 17, Pratt drove a spike down the middle for a side-out point, and then the 6’5″ junior notched the winning point with a forceful block. Corona del Mar, which had defeated the Dons on their home floor in a five-game semifinal two years ago – and had beaten them again in last year’s championship match – returned to the scene of the crime Wednesday and appeared ready to disappoint Santa Barbara again.
After cruising to victory in game one, Corona del Mar was on the brink of a two-zip advantage when it took a 24-18 lead in game two. A side-out by the Dons hardly improved their prospects – all the visitors needed was one side-out in the next five points to win the game. But with senior Will Montgomery serving, the Dons rattled off seven consecutive points and squared the match at a game apiece. Blocks by Pratt and fellow junior Taylor Fauntleroy frustrated the Sea Kings, who also hit several balls into the net.
“That game was the turning point,” said Santa Barbara coach Chad Arneson. “You couldn’t ask for a better match than that. I feel like a monkey is off my back. I’ve been losing to Corona del Mar a lot of times.”
Corona del Mar overcame an 18-13 deficit to win game three and took a 10-5 lead in the fourth game, but the Dons roared back with a 6-0 run, and they never trailed again. Senior setter Andy Abayan sparked the rally, but he had to leave the game with cramps. Dylan Hanseth, another senior, was up to the task of replacing Abayan. He finished off game four and gave the Dons an 8-5 lead in the fifth game with a solo block. Abayan then returned to the floor. Pratt (11 kills, seven blocks), Fauntleroy (12 kills, three blocks) and Montgomery (10 kills, four blocks) led Santa Barbara’s attack at the net.
The Dons split a pair of matches with Valencia this season, defeating the Vikings in the Best of the West Tournament and losing a nonleague match on the road a week later. Valencia hosted its semifinal match against Dos Pueblos on Wednesday night and defeated the Chargers in four games, 25-16, 25-15, 23-25 and 25-19.
In the Division IV volleyball semis, Oaks Christian turned back a game effort by Bishop Diego, 28-26, 25-22 and 25-17.
Santa Barbara’s tennis team rolled to an 11-7 victory over Mater Dei in a semifinal match Wednesday at Los Caballeros Racquet Club in Fountain Valley.