Two of the top boys volleyball teams in Southern California reside in Santa Barbara and they battled it out for Channel League supremacy on Tuesday night at Maury Halleck Gymnasium.
It was Santa Barbara High that emerged victorious 29-31 25-21, 25-18, 25-19 over arch rival San Marcos behind 35 kills from senior Will Rottman.
“Our goal is to go undefeated in Channel League. Right now we’re 4-0 so that’s a good start going into spring break,” said Santa Barbara coach Chad Arneson. “ I’m just proud of the way everyone played hard tonight,”
Everything did not begin smoothly for Santa Barbara as San Marcos wrestled away set one. Back-to-back kills by Brennan Ware clinched a 1-0 set lead for San Marcos after the two teams went back and forth between ties and lead changes down the stretch.
Rottman was unhappy with Santa Barbara’s set one performance, but gained confidence despite the set back.
“We didn’t play close to our best volleyball that first set. I know I didn’t and I made uncharacteristic mistakes,” Rottman said. “That’s what happens in a crosstown rivalry, I kind of let the nerves get the best of me in set one. I think we all knew that if we bounced back and played our game we were fine.”
In set two, San Marcos evened the scored at 20-20 on a kill by Parker Bittner, but the Dons responded with a 5-1 run capped off by a Rottman cross-court spike that evened the match at one set apiece.
The Royals never recovered from the abysmal finish to set two and fell behind 17-11 in set three. A Will Pace kill cut the San Marcos deficit to 23-18 but Santa Barbara clinched a 2-1 set lead on another Rottman kill.
“We gave them about everything we could, but they were just a little bit better tonight,” said San Marcos coach Roger Kuntz. “They’ve got a lot of firepower and we made a lot of mistakes in serve-receive tonight when normally we’re a little bit stronger than that.”
A kill by Riley Roach clinched set four and the match for Santa Barbara. Sophomore Libero Matt Suh was a key for Santa Barbabra and finished with a match-high 16 digs.
Parker Bittner finished with 14 kills on 20 swings for San Marcos. Brennan Ware chipped in 12 kills and Jacob Yinger contributed 14 digs.