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Santa Barbara Sports Roundup: Sticks, Balls, and Sneakers

Roundup of Santa Barbara Baseball, Lacrosse, and Track & Field News; plus, Coaches of the Year

Santa Barbara’s Will Rottman (right) pounded a match-high 22 kills, but Mira Costa survived the onslaught in the CIF volleyball semifinals. | Credit: Paul Wellman

Momentum made a 180-degree turn against the Santa Barbara High boys’ volleyball team last week. After winning the first set of their CIF Southern Section Division 1 semifinal against Mira Costa, 25-15, the Dons came up short late in the second set, and the visiting Mustangs took the match, 27-25, 25-20, and 25-17.

But it was not the last day on the court for the Dons and their Stanford-bound senior Will Rottman, who had 22 kills in the match. They were seeded No. 5 in the CIF State Regionals and headed to Los Angeles for a match against No. 4 Loyola.

The top-seeded team is Newport Harbor, which took down Mira Costa in four sets for the Southern Section title. Leading the way for the champions was 6′4″ senior Dayne Chalmers, who had 20 kills and 11 digs — a good omen for UCSB. Chalmers has committed to play for the Gauchos next year.

STICK SHOW:  It will not officially be a CIF sport until next year, but the girls’ lacrosse match between Dos Pueblos High and Cate School last Friday had all the excitement of a CIF final. It provided the thrill of victory to Cate, which turned the tables on the Chargers to win the Division 2 championship of the L.A. Lacrosse Foundation, 6-3.

Dos Pueblos had gone unbeaten in the Channel League, defeating Cate twice along the way, but the Rams got a supercharged effort from senior Maddie Erickson. She was checked in the stomach in the first half, forcing her off the field, but she came back to score three goals in the second half during a 5-0 Cate run.

Photo: Paul WellmanCate School’s Maddie Erikson (left) races DP’s Kenzie Hemman downfield

“Maddie’s grit and determination were seen Friday night,” Cate coach Renee Mack said. Kenzie Davidson and Lilly Riehl also scored for the Rams.

DP coach Sam Limkeman cited a truism that applies to closely matched opponents: “It’s hard to beat a team three times.”

Cate’s swarming defense shut out the Chargers’ leading scorer, Olivia Geyling. Brooke Essig scored all three DP goals, the last two after Cate had taken a 6-1 lead. The Rams’ goalie, Liza Borghesani, made 10 saves.

Limkeman praised the defensive effort by the Chargers. Their goalie, Annette Bennett, stopped 11 shots.

Erickson, who will study business and art at NYU next year, leaves a legacy in Carpinteria. She cofounded a youth program that in three years has grown to more than 100 girls playing lacrosse. The CIF chose Erickson among 14 Southern California prep athletes to be recognized at the 15th annual Dr. Jim Staunton Champions for Character awards banquet last fall.

FLASH ON THE TRACK:  Lightning strikes in the vicinity caused a precautionary stoppage of the Big West Track and Field Championships at UCSB on Saturday. When the meet resumed after more than an hour, Hope Bender ran like lightning in the 400-meter hurdles. The UCSB senior stopped the clock at 56.64 seconds, shattering her school record, cleaving almost a second off the meet record (57.69 by Cal Poly’s LeBren Martin in 2003), and moving her up to No. 3 on the NCAA leaderboard. “It was my last 400 hurdles race as a collegian,” said Bender, who left Cal State Northridge’s De’Andreah Young in the dust on the homestretch. “I wanted it more.”

Bender is also No. 3 nationally in the heptathlon, and she will forego the hurdles to pursue the seven-event competition at the NCAA Championships next month. She won the Big West heptathlon title a week earlier, and in other conference finals she set a personal record by winning the long jump on her last attempt of 6.29 meters (20′7 ¾″), took second in the 100 hurdles, and ran a 52.4-second split in the 4×400 relay. For the second time, she was named Female Athlete of the Meet.

THREE-BAGGERS:  After her triple triumph at Pauley Track, Bender spent Sunday afternoon at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium, where the Gaucho baseball team improved to 40-7 with its ninth consecutive victory, 8-4 over Long Beach State. Tommy Jew, her boyfriend, drove a ball into the gap and raced around the bases for UCSB’s 28th triple of the year. The Gauchos lead the Big West by two games and will host second-place Cal Poly in a three-game series May 23-25, ending the regular season.

COACHES OF THE YEAR:  Dave Bregante, who took the Santa Barbara High basketball team to its fourth-straight Channel League championship, and Andrew Checketts, who is trying to lead UCSB to its first Big West baseball pennant since 1986, were honored by the Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table last week. Bregante, 74, has retired after coaching the Dons for eight adventurous years, with his son Joseph at his side. Before that, the 1961 graduate of SBHS was a junior high teacher and coach. Checketts is eight years into his first head coaching job, and UCSB fans hope he hangs around for many more.

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