San Marcos celebrates a crucial victory over crosstown rival Santa Barbara. | Credit: ENTENZA

The Thunderhut was still rocking in celebration when Roger Kuntz led his San Marcos High boys’ volleyball team out a back door and into the pool for a celebratory swim. 

The Royals reentered the gym a few minutes later soaking wet and beaming with joy after vanquishing rival Santa Barbara in four sets 26-24, 25-18, 19-25, 25-23 on Thursday night

“They said ‘coach If we win you gotta jump in the pool’ and I said ‘I’ll make that happen,’” Kuntz recalled. “I went off the diving board first and they all followed.”

The victory was worthy of celebration as Santa Barbara took the first meeting between the two teams to take control of the Channel League title race. The Royals needed a win to climb back into contention and delivered an inspired performance on their home court to defeat Santa Barbara for the first time since 2014.

San Marcos setter Hansen Streeter orchestrated a balanced attack as five Royals finished with five or more kills led by  sophomore Jack Wilson, who racked up a team-high 11 kills. Streeter totaled 40 assists. 

“We worked hard this week together and I thought that these guys really deserved this tonight,” Kuntz said. “The amount of work that they’ve put in and the talent that they’ve got together I thought was pretty impressive.”

Sign up for Indy Today to receive fresh news from, in your inbox, every morning.

After narrowly taking set one 26-24, San Marcos imposed its will in set two. A solo block by Aiden Pazier put San Marcos ahead 20-15 and the Royals went on to clinch the set 25-18 after a Santa Barbara serve error.

“We’ve had previous games where we felt like we were together, but tonight was something different,” Pazier said. “We were just all vibing together.”

In set three, Santa Barbara made adjustments, moving senior Andreas Schuetz into the middle and sophomore Mason Rice outside, which gave the team a spark. A cross court spike by Alex Rottman forced a fourth set.

“We changed our lineup, moving Mason outside. I thought that helped and with Andreas in the middle we were a little more effective,” said Santa Barbara coach Chad Arneson. 

Rottman finished with a match-high 25 kills for Santa Barbara, but it wasn’t enough. San Marcos regained control in set four and withstood a late Santa Barbara rally to clinch the match on a kill by Zach Willbanks.

The two teams are now tied atop the Channel League standings with one loss apiece going into the final stretch of the season. 

Both teams will compete in the Karch Kiraly Tournament of Champions this weekend hosted by Santa Barbara High.

Support the Santa Barbara Independent through a long-term or a single contribution.


Please note this login is to submit events or press releases. Use this page here to login for your Independent subscription

Not a member? Sign up here.