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CIF boys volleyball: Pressure points

West Ranch advances to quarterfinals by coming up big in big moments

Posted: May 11, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: May 11, 2012 1:55 a.m.

West Ranch teammates Anthony Hanna, left, and Ben Davis celebrate a victory in the first set Thursday against San Juan Hills during the second round of the CIF-Southern Section Division II playoffs at West Ranch High School.

The higher pressure the situation, the better West Ranch boys volleyball seems to perform.

In a pivotal game three on Thursday night at West Ranch High, the Wildcats fought back from the jaws of defeat to win, paving the way to a 3-1 victory over San Juan Hills High of San Juan Capistrano.

The win came in the second round of the CIF-Southern Section Division II playoffs and it comes just two days after the Wildcats won their first playoff match in school history, a 3-1 win at Righetti High.

“They want it more than any team I’ve ever coached,” said West Ranch head coach Nate Sparks. “And they played like it.”

West Ranch (21-9 overall) won by scores of 25-21, 17-25, 31-29 and 25-15.

After the teams split the first two games, the tipping point came in the third.

San Juan Hills (19-12) had the first chance to take the game, pulling out to a 24-23 lead, but West Ranch’s Dalton Peck kept his team alive with a kill.

Peck had a match-high 22 kills, including four in West Ranch’s last eight points.

After the score was locked up at 24-24, the teams swapped opportunities to seal the game.

In the end, the Wildcats scored three straight points to finish it off when San Juan committed a back-row violation.

“We’ve got a great team this season and lots of seniors,” said Wildcats outside hitter Tanner Skabelund. “Tonight, we started slow, but then we just put it all together.”

Skabelund recorded nine of his 18 kills in the third game after coming alive late.

With a 2-1 lead in the match, West Ranch rode the momentum into the fourth game.

The Stallions couldn’t handle the Wildcats’ high-percentage serving and consistent blocking presence led by Adam Hersh, who finished with four blocks and eight kills.

As a team, West Ranch had 16 aces.

“They really kept the pressure on us in a tight match,” said San Juan Hills head coach Justin Deblasio. “Their jump serving really kept us off balance.”

It was a battle between West Ranch’s plentiful offensive weapons and the Stallions’ scrappy defense.

Ryan Schickling led the Stallions with 13 kills and James Brown added 11.

San Juan did its best work in the second game when it jumped out to a 7-0 lead and never allowed West Ranch to mount a comeback.

In the opening game, Peck and Ben Davis combined for 10 kills to lead the way.

The Wildcats fired off an early 6-1 scoring run to take a 14-9 upper hand, one they never gave up in the game.

West Ranch setter Anthony Hanna distributed the ball well, tallying 61 assists.

On Saturday, West Ranch will play in its first CIF quarterfinal when it hosts the bracket’s No. 3 seed Laguna Beach at 7 p.m.



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