JV setter Hedden steps in in Dons’ sweep

Daniel Hedden had to be scared heading into Tuesday night’s boys volleyball match at the Thunderhut.

The sophomore setter had never played a varsity match before, but he was all of a sudden being asked to run the offense for one of the state’s best teams against its oldest rival.

He got the job done, setting the first two games of Santa Barbara High’s 25-22, 25-11, 25-15 sweep at San Marcos before giving way to varsity back-up Blake Williams.

Sam Biscaro, the Dons’ University of Hawai’i-bound setter who is also one of the team’s best blockers, rolled his ankle badly in practice this week and will miss at least two weeks. Williams, his back-up, sustained a back injury in practice that left coach Chad Arneson tentative to use him.

So there was Hedden, who led a 5-0 run to open the match by tallying three aces.

“We just kind of told him to do his thing and tried not to get too complicated with him,” said Arneson. “He actually ran a few big plays through the middle, so it was exciting. I think we’re up for this challenge.”

Taylor Fauntleroy celebrated his 18th birthday with 11 kills and five blocks for Santa Barbara, while star Chris Pratt — who is recovering from an ankle injury of his own — put away seven kills with four blocks. Big sophomore Clifford Anderson racked up five blocks on the night, while senior Blake Crowe went on a 7-point serving spree to spark the stellar second frame for Santa Barbara (17-4, 7-0).

San Marcos (12-9, 2-5) was led by emerging sophomore Jackson Kunz’s six kills, but coach Roger Kuntz didn’t have much more to note as far as positives.

“After dropping that close first game we kind of packed up our tents. We made the match a little too big. Guys were trying to win the whole thing in one swing and it led to too many errors,” he said.

“Fundamentally, our serve receive was non-existent, our setting was inconsistent and we had a lot of hitting errors. That’s a pretty bad combination.”

The Royals still have plenty to play for, as winning Thursday’s home match against Ventura would set up a one-match playoff against Buena on Friday, with the winner earning the final spot in the playoffs out of the Channel League.

The Dons, meanwhile, will try to complete their fifth consecutive undefeated league season on Thursday, as they welcome in a hungry Dos Pueblos squad. Arneson noted that DP will be well-aware of his team’s injury issues, as coach Chris Hughes and senior Dillan Bennett were in the stands on Tuesday night.

“Obviously, DP’s going to have a little more confidence. I hoping we can just play well,” said Arneson.