Royals can dig it in loss to Pirates

Losing stinks, but it’s still possible to feel better after a loss than before it.

San Marcos’ girls volleyball team felt that way on Wednesday night after putting together what coach Courtney Preston said was the best effort of the young season, losing to a strong Santa Ynez squad 25-18, 21-25, 25-20, 25-19 at the Thunderhut.

“We definitely competed more in this match than we have in past ones,” said Preston.

The 4-set showdown took a full two hours to complete, and long rallies due to exceptional defense on both sides might have had something to do with it.

Libero Emma Campbell led the defensive charge for the hosts, shoveling up 25 digs — many of her former club teammate, UC Irvine-bound Santa Ynez hammer Aly Squires.

“We’ve been doing a lot of serving and passing in practice. Defense is definitely my favorite part of the game, and it’s fun to face hitters like Aly,” said Campbell.


Squires had nine kills on the night while Pirates junior Rachel Szeyller led Santa Ynez with 15. Katherine Crook had 11 for the Royals (1-4) and Mallory Zaunius chipped in seven.

There were two long rallies in the early points of the match which led to a 6-6 tie in the first set. Zaunius out a ball away in the middle and Jaimie Mayner nabbed a kill on a slide set to put San Marcos up 9-7, but Santa Ynez took the lead at 9-8 and never trailed the rest of the way.

The Pirates led 17-13 in the second set, but Campbell made a great dig on a ball crushed by Squires as part of a marathon rally that ended with the Santa Ynez star hitting a ball into the antenna. San Marcos was fired up, and Campbell served up an ace on the very next point to keep things rolling. Robin Zelko added two aces over a 3-point span just moments later to give San Marcos a 21-18 lead, forcing a timeout from Santa Ynez coach Chip Fenenga.

Zaunius and Paulina King got together for a block to make it 24-21, and the Pirates hit one out to give the Royals the game.

“Our defense was really good tonight, and we passed well — especially in the second game,” noted Preston.

Campbell made another great dig of Squires before the Pirates went into the net to give San Marcos a 15-13 lead in the third set, but two straight put-aways by Annika Bastanchurry gave Santa Ynez a 19-18 lead that would not be relinquished. San Marcos fell in a 12-4 hole to start the fourth and never recovered.

“We competed well tonight, but we still had a lot of ups and downs. We just need to get rid of some of those downs and we can play with anybody,” said Campbell.

The Royals won’t be able to afford many downs at all when they play at Dos Pueblos in their next match on October 6th.