Hertlein, Vaqueros put the hurt on Pierce

Justin Hertlein collected 18 kills, three blocks and a season-high seven digs Wednesday night to guide SBCC to a 3-1 men’s volleyball victory over L.A. Pierce at the Sports Pavilion. The scores were 25-22, 25-17, 23-25, 25-19. 

“We came out with a lot of fire in Games 1 and 2,” said Hertlein, a 6-5 sophomore opposite who recorded a .419 hitting percentage. “We eased off a little bit in Game 3 but we bounced back in Game 4.”

The Vaqueros (7-6, 4-2 WSC) won for the third straight time and fourth in five matches. On March 9 in Woodland Hills, they lost a 2-1 lead over Pierce (8-5, 3-3) and dropped a 3-2 decision in the conference opener.

“We’re a completely different team with a different lineup in different positions,” Hertlein said. “That was our first conference match and we hadn’t gotten our team dynamic together yet. Now that we know what we’re doing and it was a little harder for them to push back against us.

“I feel like we overwhelmed them in some rotations.”

Kyle Benskin had 11 kills and hit .625 while Justin Carroll had 12 kills and hit .388. Cody Zoesch added five kills, three blocks and a .400 hitting percentage.

SBCC missed its first three serves in the first set but still managed to win 25-22. Pierce had six serving errors in the opener, including five in a row late in the contest. In the fourth set, the Vaqueros used a 7-1 run to open a 15-9 lead. Hertlein had a kill and a service ace in the run.

Carroll capped the victory with a solo block.

“Our hitting was off the charts today,” said Vaquero coach Armen Zakarian. “We’re developing consistency and we‘re starting to believe in ourselves. We were up 2-1 at Pierce and we lost 15-11 in the fifth game. There’s no doubt that was on our minds. We weren’t going to give away another 2-1 lead.”

SBCC travels to El Camino on Friday.