Dons can’t hold leads, fall to Bellarmine Prep in TOC

Santa Barbara volleyball coach Chad Arneson is waiting for someone on his team to step up and be the go-to guy.

No one stepped up on Friday night and as a result the Dons lost to Bellarmine Prep, 25-22, 25-23, 25-14, in a quarterfinal match of the Karch Kiraly Tournament of Champions at J.R. Richards Gym.

“We had leads in the first and second games and we weren’t able to take advantage,” Arneson said. “That’s been our Achilles heel, finding a way to put teams away when we have the opportunity to do so. We’re looking for a go-to guy, somemone who wants the ball all the time. I know we have one. I’m just waiting to see if he steps into that role.”

With the loss, the Dons drop into the fifth-place semifinals and face Thousand Oaks at 9 a.m. Saturday.

Third-seeded Bellarmine, which last month won the Dos Pueblos Invitational, advances to a semifinal match against No. 2 Santa Margarita.

The other semifinal features top-ranked Mira Costa against No. 4 Newport Harbor. Both matches are at 10:45 a.m.

The championship is at 6:15 p.m.

Newport Harbor defeated Corona del Mar, Santa Margarita beat Thousand Oaks, and Mira Costa topped Valencia in four games in the other quarterfinal matches Friday.

Dos Pueblos went 1-1 on the day, losing its first match against Valencia and bouncing back to sweep Buena. San Marcos lost to Santa Margarita and Ventura. The Chargers and Royals both play at San Marcos on Saturday morning.

Santa Barbara opened with a 25-19, 25-18, 17-25, 25-18 win over Clovis West. Holden Ploch blasted 13 kills from the outside and middle Clifford Anderson had nine kills. Casey Slaught also played well.

Against Bellarmine, Alex Biedul led a balanced attack with nine kills, Ploch added seven and Anderson six. Libero Nick Clark picked up seven digs.

“Bellarmine Prep played very well and consistent. We ran into a good team,” said Arneson. “We led in the first and second games. It’s just one of those things where we couldn’t get it done.”

Arneson said the team needs to rebound for an important match against Thousand Oaks.

“The guys know what’s at stake,” he said. “It’s very important for us to play well against Thousand Oaks, knowing it’s a Division 1 team. It’s important for seedings going into the playoffs. I’m hoping the boys will be ready and come out fighting.”