San Clemente eliminates squad in second round of playoffs

Jake Liker

All eight seniors on the boys’ volleyball team played their final game of their high school careers May 14, when they were eliminated from the playoffs by San Clemente in straight sets.

The Wolverines advanced to the second round of the CIF Southern Section Division I playoffs for the second time in three years after defeating Santa Barbara in the first round.

Head Coach Adam Black said that the game was one of the highlights of the season.

“We obviously wanted our game against San Clemente to go differently … but overall, the guys did a really good job at learning, improving, getting better, and because of that we were able to beat a really good Santa Barbara team in the first round,” Black said. “We have a really nice upward trajectory throughout the whole season.”

The tightly contested match went to five sets after the Wolverines and Dons won alternating sets, 25-21, 20-25, 25-23 and 19-25.

“I felt a lot of pressure as a starting sophomore to really perform well so that I didn’t let my team down,” Colin Shannon ‘17 said. “In the fifth set we had game point and … I had an open kill and I missed it. I could really feel the pressure on me, and I really didn’t want to lose it for my team.

Despite failing to close the game in the fourth set, the Wolverines outlasted their opponents in the fifth set through good defense, 19-17.

“That for sure was a moment for us that I think really showed what our hard work and improvement can do,” Black said.

Both Black and Shannon also mentioned that a late season victory over Mission League rival Notre Dame was another high point of the season.

“My favorite moment was when we beat Notre Dame,” Shannon said. “I know a fair amount of kids on that team, and one of our first games of the season was against Notre Dame, and we lost in five (sets). So to come back and [beat] them in five was really satisfying.”

Now Black says there will be big holes to fill with eight seniors graduating. Among them is Hudson Ling ‘15, who led the team in kills with 172 in Mission League play.

Also off to college is the team leader in blocks, Nico Lubkeman ‘15, who recorded 21 of them in league play. Shannon, who has been on the varsity team since he was a freshman, finished second on the team in both of those categories.

“I have big shoes to fill,” Shannon said. “I’ll definitely need to step it up. We have some juniors but very few of them play club. The nice thing about this year was all of our starters were club players, but next year it might not be the same.

“So as a club player, I’ll need to step it up, and also I’ll need to step it up as a returning starter … I think people will look to me as a leadership role even though I’ll be a junior just because I’ll be one of the more experienced players.”