Chargers into semis; Dons knocked off by Wilson

Dos Pueblos is alive and into the semifinals of the Tournament of Champions, the annual girls volleyball tournament hosted locally by the Santa Barbara Dons that attracts only the state’s finest programs. As for the hosts, they were brought down in three games by Long Beach Wilson and will be playing for fifth place on Saturday.

The Chargers, ranked No. 1 in Division I-A, needed four games to dispatch Redondo Union, 25-18, 21-25, 25-22, 25-22. The victory pegs DP against powerhouse Archbishop Mitty in Saturday’s semifinal that starts at 10:45 a.m.

Carly Wopat led the Chargers against Redondo, slamming home 18 kills and added five blocks. Caitlin Racich also came up big with a double-double (11 kills, 12 digs).

Even though Santa Barbara got swept 25-20, 35-37, 27-25, the Dons pushed Wilson, Division I-AA’s No. 2-ranked team, to the brink in a memorable second game, and had a lead in each of the three games.

The Dons still have plenty to play for, starting off with a 9 a.m. match at J.R. Richards gym with Newport Harbor. The Dons can still earn a fifth-place finish.

DP and Santa Barbara both won their first matches.

Santa Barbara took care of St. Francis 25-21, 25-20, 25-16 thanks to 11 kills from Mimi Cuttrell and seven from Emily Rottman.

Dos Pueblos took down Centennial 25-17, 25-21, 25-18, an effort led by Carly Wopat’s five aces, five blocks and nine kills. Sammie Brown added six put-aways.

The Dons have been in a mid-season funk since losing to DP at Sovine Gym a couple of weeks ago, and had been hoping a little break to re-charge their batteries would help them in their quest for the title in their own tournament.

“We had a break from matches, so it was kind of nice just to practice a lot. I think it’s really helped us,” said Dons setter Natalie Guerra.

Unfortunately for the Dons, they came up against a powerful Wilson, who have nine seniors on their side. The Bruins also had history on their side, having ousted the Dons from this very tournament already the previous two years.

“They were smart and steady,” said assistant coach Lee Carlander. “They come at you from all angles.”

Long Beach Wilson faces Mira Costa in one semifinal and the Chargers meet Mitty in the other. Finals begin at approximately 6:15 p.m. at Santa Barbara’s JR Richards Gym.

(Photos taken by Blake Dorfman/PresidioPics)