It’s Marathon Week in boys high school volleyball, which will be capped with Santa Barbara High’s 16-team Karch Kiraly Tournament of Champions on Friday and Saturday.
The players should get an adrenalin boost at the end of it all, Dons coach Chad Arneson said during Monday’s Athletic Round Table at Harry’s Plaza Café.
“Karch is coming on Saturday,” he said, referring to Santa Barbara’s Olympic gold medalist alum. “It’ll be fun for the boys to have Karch watching some great high school volleyball.
“We’ll be playing six matches in a week, so it’s going to be a grind.”
The Dons are seeded third behind Loyola and Palisades Charter. San Marcos, 12-3 overall, will also be competitive with the likes of juniors Niko Cvitanic, Tyler Curt, and Ryan Feller. Coach Roger Kuntz said Cvitanic helped set the tone for the Royals’ in their season opener against Arroyo Grande.
“He made a couple of incredible saves, a couple of incredible kills in game five when we were tied at 14-all, he said. “So he really got us off on a start the right way.”
He added that he’d like to get Curt, a starter at the opposite position, “at the service line a little more often” because of his wicked armswing.l
Feller is a service specialist and San Marcos’ setter-in-waiting, playing behind senior star Tanner Stevens.
“On a lot of other teams, he would be a premier setter for them,” Kuntz said. “We’re kind of blessed in that we’ve got a couple of those guys in our program.”
SBCC, 11-6 and 7-4 in the tough WSC, is ranked fourth in the state, with a Friday home date looming against No. 2 Long Beach CC. But the Vaqueros are already No. 1 in one area:
“Freshman left-hander Calvin Sanborn leads the state in kills with 256,” sports information specialist Dave Loveton said.
UCSB has cracked every national poll with a record of 23-5. The Gauchos are also No. 5 in the Ratings Percentage Index, associate head coach Donegal Fergus said.
“That will put us in line – if we can hold that – to possibly host a regional,” he said. “We still have a lot of work to do, obviously, in the conference.”
UCSB, which won two out of three games at defending Big West Conference champion Cal State Fullerton, will play this week’s home series against another nationally ranked team, UC Irvine.
“Right off the bat, we get to see how we stand up against the best in the Big West,” Fergus said.
SBCC is still in the hunt for a So Cal Regional berth, with a chance to catch Cuesta for second place in the Western State Conference when they battle today at 2:30 p.m. at Pershing Park. Two local players – Santa Barbara alum Tommy Holguin and San Marcos High graduate Ian Churchill – played big roles in last week’s three victories.
“On Thursday, we had a walk-off, come-from-behind win against Hancock, with Tommy Holguin getting the game-winning hit,” coach Jeff Walker said. “He had some unhappy DP alumni (who play for Hancock) talking to him after the game, which was nice to see.”
Churchill, normally a starter, came in during the 10th inning to save Tuesday’s win at Hancock and then he got the win on Saturday at Cuesta while pitching the final seven innings.
“It’s worked out well to get our best pitchers pitching at the end of the game, with three games where we came from behind this week,” Walker said.
Westmont, ranked No. 18 in the NAIA, faces a critical series this week with four games against The Masters.
“There are six teams within four games at the top of the standings, and five of those teams are going to earn a spot in the GSAC Tournament,” sports information director Ron Smith said. “Westmont is three games behind first-place The Masters, and we’re in fifth place.”
Santa Barbara will put its Channel League lead on the line on Tuesday and Friday against second-place Lompoc. Coach Steve Schuck likes his chances, however, with his two Nicks: junior shortstop Nick Oakley and senior first baseman Nick Dallow.
“These two guys are the straws that stir the drink,” he said. “(Oakley) is leading our team in stolen bases … He’s also made maybe only three errors this year and has just played with heart and grit and passion and fire. He’s perfect in the leadoff spot.
“When I met (Dallow), he didn’t have a position. In the short 51/2 months that I’ve been here, he’s really stepped up and taken hold of first base. He leads our team in doubles – he’s in the fourth spot.”
San Marcos has a six-game winning streak entering today’s game at rival Dos Pueblos, which has won three in a row. Seniors Julio Perez and Jeremy Vincent Matter have helped keep the Royals spirits high.
“Julio has been part of couple of big innings when he’s had to jump out on the hill and throw some pitches, and has done really well for us,” coach Jacob Pepper said. “He’s got a ton of energy and is always happy, doing everything he can to help the team.”
He’s also the inspiration for the team motto on the back of their shirts: Trust the process.
“We’ll continue to stick him in when we need him because we know we can trust him,” Pepper said.
Matter, a transfer student from Switzerland, is playing his first season of baseball.
“The bottom line is that he’s the most improved player we have,” Pepper said. “We’ve inserted him and got him some playing time, he’s gotten some experience, and we trust him more and more as he’s gone out there … with heart and love and commitment.”
Dos Pueblos and San Marcos will battle each other for the Channel League lead with three games this week, beginning today on the Chargers’ diamond. DP centerfielder Josy Uyesaka is coming off a big week, earning Athlete of the Week honors after winning one game with a three-run double and nearly saving another by crashing through the fence to make a dazzling catch.
“That’s about the third time I’ve seen her do that – I saw her do that as a 14-year-old at nationals a few years ago,” coach Mike Gerken said. “When she comes out to practice, it’s full-speed, all the time.”
He noted that third baseman Jenny Nichols made a diving catch against Camarillo when pressed into outfield duty. “I don’t know if she’s made a single error all year,” he said.
Ali Borden, meanwhile, has led DP both in the pitching circle and at the plate.
“She’s really a student of the game,” Gerken said.
Carpinteria coach Dakota Wilcox, is high on first baseman Isabel Studt and outfielder Karessa Flores.
“These two girls are the ones I look for getting the energy going and to be very vocal on the field,” she said.
Bishop Diego High coach MeLinda Matsumoto has just one senior, Miranda Alvarez, who is coming off a big day at the plate against Santa Barbara. “Miranda is really aggressive in the box,” she observed.
Freshman third baseman Yvette is batting over .450, she added.
“I think her on-base percentage is over .600,” Matsumoto said.
UCSB is looking to bounce back from a 1-5 start to Big West Conference play.
“Now we’re off to Hawaii, and it’s always tough to play in Hawaii,” assistant coach Alyssia Hendricks said.
Captains Alex Oaten and Aaron Juan will be among those honored on Thursday during Dos Pueblos’ Senior Day match against Carpinteria.
“They’re very flexible when I put them in singles or doubles,” coach Laura Housinger said. “They are the two leaders of our team. They’re always doing whatever I ask but also starting to do things even before I ask, which is fantastic.”
Carpitneria, 15-3 and 7-0 in the Citrus Coast League, is off to its best start in 15 years.
“Two of the main reasons for this fine start are senior captains Carlos Castilla and Solomon Nahooikaika,” Wilcox said, quoting coach Charles Bryant. “Carlos has been irreplaceable this season. He’s been playing No. 1 singles for most of the year, but recently has partnered with Solomon’s brother, Luke, in doubles.
“Solomon has been a three-year varsity starter and is easily one of the best athletes to come through here in the last 15 years.”
Westmont, 16-4, will be the No. 1 seed for next week’s GSAC Tournament at Indian Wells.
“They have a great team dynamic, which I think is a lot of our success,” coach Ellie Searle said.
SBCC, 16-3, is also having a banner year, winning its first WSC title in 18 years.
“The top two players are twins from Belgium, Jamaica and Joica Buyse,” Loveton said.
TRACK AND FIELD
Carpinteria High is pulling out all the stops for Saturday’s 100th running of the Russell Cup, the oldest prep track meet in the country.
“Opening ceremonies are at 8:45, starting with a flyover over by vintage military aircraft,” Wilcox said, noting that 45 schools will take part in the meet.
Santa Barbara coach Moki Nacario pointed out that the Channel League also has a big meet on Wednesday at Dos Pueblos’ Scott O’Leary Stadium involving the three local high schools.
“Our boys are 2-1 in league and we’re hoping if we can take care of business, that we’ll end up in a three-way tie for first place,” he said.