In its final non-league match before opening Channel League play at Santa Barbara on Thursday, the San Marcos High girls volleyball team defeated Buena in straight sets 25-17, 25-19, 25-23 on Tuesday night at Maury Halleck Gym.
Senior outside hitter Kendall Williams, who finished with 13 kills, 12 digs and two blocks, led the Royals to victory. She has steadily improved her all-around game as the season has progressed and is starting to flourish at the right time.
“Kendall has stepped up her game. She has really picked it up,” said San Marcos co-head coach Tina Brown. “She had a double-double so that was great.”
Brynn Sofro added 10 kills and Kristine Fimlaid finished with six kills and two blocks. Setter Ellie Gamberdella had one of her best matches of the season orchestrating the balanced San Marcos attack and finished with 40 assists. Libero Grace Matthews spearheaded the defensive effort with 12 digs.
As a result of league realignment this is the first year that Buena is not in the Channel League so the stakes were not nearly as high as when the two teams have matched up in recent seasons. Nevertheless the solid competition will pay dividends for both teams in the immediate future.
“It’s just not as stressful. It’s always been such a strong league with (Buena) and Ventura in it,” said San Marcos co-head coach Dwayne Hauschild of the matchup with Buena. “They’re always a good program, same with Ventura, so you know that in this game you get what you get and it’s not going to impact you’re Channel League aspirations.”
The Royals led throughout set one and came within match point on a solo block by Fimlaid. San Marcos went on to clinch the opening set on an ace serve by Williams.
In set two, San Marcos fell behind 4-1, but quickly evened the match at 8-8 on a Williams kill. The lead ballooned to 16-11 on a kill by Taylor Wilson and The Royals clinched the set on a Buena net violation.
Closing Buena out in the third set proved to be a challenge as the visiting Bulldogs jumped out to an 11-6 lead on a massive team block. However, San Marcos once again clawed back and evened the set at 18-18 when Buena’s Kendall Owens hit wide.
After a Williams kill evened the match at 23-23, back-to-back Buena hitting errors clinched the match for San Marcos.
“We’ve been working on that too, figuring out what are you thinking at 23 all in the third game when you have won the first two games,” Brown said. “One of the girls says ‘I hope it doesn’t go four’ and that’s the mentality we’re trying to change. We have to finish it.”