The only thing standing between the Santa Barbara High boy’s volleyball team and an outright Channel League title was archrival San Marcos.
The Dons overcame their final obstacle and completed a perfect 8-0 run through Channel League play with a 25-22, 25-18, 25-23 victory over the visiting Royals on Thursday night at J. R. Richards Gymnasium.
“It’s tough to beat a rival like San Marcos in three straight,” said Santa Barbara coach Chad Arneson. “You’ve got to give Roger (Kuntz) and his team a lot of credit they made us earn that third game.”
Santa Barbara has been steadily ascending this season culminating in a first-place finish at the Karch Kiraly TOC this past weekend. The Dons are now ranked No. 4 in the most recent CIF-SS Division 1/2 poll and a legit contender for a championship in perhaps the toughest division in the nation.
At the center of Santa Barbara’s stellar season has been senior Stanford signee Will Rottman, who methodically racked up 30 kills in three sets against San Marcos.
“It’s a little bittersweet. Leading up to these matches you’re anxious and you kind of want to get through them and see what happens, but now that they’re over I’m going to miss them for sure,” said Rottman of his final match against San Marcos. “Hopefully I will find another rivalry that means just as much.”
Set one was tied at 20-20, but Santa Barbara closed strong and clinched the set on a cross-court spike by Sam Meister.
The Dons then pulled away midway through set two with a 6-2 run capped off by a Rottman kill that increased their lead to 18-13. A Rottman spike down the line clinched the set.
In set three, San Marcos took a 21-18 lead on a kill by Toby Still forcing a Santa Barbara timeout. The Dons ties the score at 22-22 on a kill by Meister and took a 23-22 lead on a solo block by Meister. Meister then clinched set three and the match 25-23 with a powerful spike.
“We gave them about everything we could give them tonight. We made a couple mistakes here and there, but I couldn’t be prouder of the way that we played hard tonight,” Kuntz said. “In all facets of the game we played a pretty good match. We just came up against a guy that’s going to get kills.”
Santa Barbara (21-6 overall, 8-0 Channel League) will host Arroyo Grande on Tuesday in a final tune up before the playoffs. (San Marcos 21-6, 6-2)will host Oak Park on Wednesday.