Chargers sweep up Royals at Sovine

A lot of people were surprised when Dos Pueblos captain Caitlin Racich delivered a spot-on rendition of our national anthem before Tuesday’s volleyball match at Sovine Gym.

There weren’t many surprises after that, however.

The top-ranked Chargers took care of business in diligent fashion, dispatching visiting San Marcos 25-21, 25-14, 25-12 to improve to 23-4 overall and 7-0 in Channel League play.

Racich had 12 kills with four aces on the night, but it was DP’s other senior captain who made the biggest impact, according to coach Tina Brown.

“It was senior night tonight, but it became the Laura Penner show,” said Brown.

Penner smacked a kill from the middle on the third point of the match and picked up a block two points later to get things going, and the one-time reserve kept cruising up front for the rest of the night, finishing with seven kills and three blocks while going up against 6-foot San Marcos middles Jenn Waddill and Grace Conner.

Conner had a solid night for the Royals with five kills and no errors, while Flo Chardon put away 12 and Emma Campbell had 16 digs.

“They make teams look worse than they are, which is exactly what they did tonight,” said Royals assistant coach Erica Menzel-Downing. “That’s why they’re ranked No. 1 in our division.”

The Royals (11-7, 3-3) are certainly not a team that gets swept in such fashion too often, as San Marcos is in pole position to take the third and final playoff spot in the league. That will likely be decided next Thursday night at the Thunderhut, when Ventura comes to town.

On that same evening, Santa Barbara will be hosting DP in a rematch of a sellout battle that the Chargers won at Sovine Gym on October 9th.

“Everybody is really focused right now, but we can’t get too overconfident,” said DP’s Sammie Brown. “You can’t go into a match like that expecting to win, but I think if we come out and play our game we should do really well.”

The junior also spoke fondly of the Charger seniors — Racich, Penner, Katelyn McDonald (three kills, five digs), Sophie Harris (seven digs) and Hannah Powers.

“It’s been so much fun playing with them because they’re just such good girls,” said Brown. “We have fun on and off the court.”

While San Marcos was outmatched on Tuesday night, the Royals still had some moments that proved what they are capable of. They were down 20-13 in the first game, but battled back to within a point at 21-20 thanks to strong serving by Anna Gerngross and some solid net play by Chardon.

Carly Wopat put a ball away to make it 22-20, but San Marcos setter Kristen Kuntz made a savvy play by dumping a ball over her right shoulder to pull the Royals back to within a point at 22-21. DP would then pull away, however, finishing the set on an untouched ace to the back line by Wopat.

It was all DP the rest of the evening.