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Vikings now sit at 0-2

Mater Dei dominates 2008 national champs

Posted: March 11, 2009 1:56 a.m.
Updated: March 11, 2009 4:55 a.m.
 
It’s never easy being a defending national champion, but when almost the entire title-winning team graduates it makes the bull’s eye on the reigning top squad’s back even more cumbersome.

Defending national boys volleyball champion Valencia lost its second consecutive match to open the season, falling in straight sets to Mater Dei 25-19, 25-11 and 25-19 at home Tuesday.

It was the season-opener for the Monarchs (1-0), who controlled the net throughout the contest.

“We were really focused on defense tonight,” said Mater Dei head coach Jimmy Munoz. “We’ve lost to these guys the last three seasons so it’s nice to pick up a win here.”

The game went back and forth early and the teams battled to an 8-8 tie before Mater Dei setter Terry Zant won seven straight service points to give the Monarchs a first-set lead they never relinquished.

“I thought all of our guys contributed some good things,” said Valencia head coach Mark Knudsen. “We have a lot of growing to do because we’re so young, but there were some encouraging aspects of how we played tonight.”

Mater Dei dominated the second set, jumping out to a 17-6 lead before cruising to a 2-0 edge.

The Monarchs were paced by eight kills each from Sal La Cavera and Kevin Campbell, along with seven digs from Chris Trefzger and four blocks from Campbell. The Vikings got 17 digs from Nick Ferry and eight kills from Daniel Johnson.

“It’s the start of the season, obviously,” said Munoz, who is in his first season coaching the boys team at Mater Dei. “Still, we had great heart out there tonight. We had some jitters early, but we got rolling as we got deeper into the game.”

Mater Dei jumped out to an early lead in the third set also before the Vikings staged a rally to cut the spread to three points at 19-16. However, Valencia couldn’t get over the hump and the Monarchs closed out the game on an ace from Campbell.

“This is just the first step for us,” Munoz said. “We’re going to look at film and focus on the little things we can do better to win more games like this one.”

Valencia will have another shot to get into the win column Friday against yet to be determined opponent at the Best of the West Varsity Tournament.

“We’re looking forward to what we can accomplish this season,” Knudsen said. “Tonight we played a team with a lot more experience than us, and we only have a couple of guys who have spent a lot of time on the floor so we know we’re going to have to work to improve because we’re so young, but I think we’ll find ways to be more aggressive and play better.”

kdamore@the-signal.com

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