San Marcos digs up long-awaited win over Dons

The dog days are over at the Thunderhut.

San Marcos’ boys volleyball program had not beaten mighty Santa Barbara in many, many years heading into Tuesday night’s showdown at San Marcos. In fact, Dons coach Chad Arneson had only lost one Channel League match in his entire 8-year career.

Jackson Kunz of San Marcos goes down for a dig to save a point. (Vince Agapito Photos)

Meanwhile, Royals coach Roger Kuntz was still waiting for his first victory over Santa Barbara.

“Even when I was the head football coach I didn’t get the opportunity to beat them,” he pointed out.

That all ended after his squad bounced back from a first-set loss to upset the No. 9 Dons 18-25, 25-22, 25-20, 25-22. Jackson Kunz led the way for the Royals with 14 kills and just one error on 23 attempts. Ben McKenzie added 13 and Spencer Johnson had 11.

The match ended on a dump by Royals setter Neil Holliday. Santa Barbara had called a time out, and Kuntz told his setter to tip down the game-winner if he got the chance.

Ben McKenzie spikes the ball for San Marcos to a score a point for the Royals.

“Coach Kuntz always says you get one dump to go down per match, and that was Neil’s golden dump of his life,” said Kunz.

Santa Barbara (15-8, 5-1) got 13 kills from Casey Slaught and 10 apiece from Holden Ploch and Alex Biedul. Arneson, who called it one of the toughest losses he’s ever had as a coach, made a lineup switch between the third and fourth games, having Nick Clark turn in his libero jersey in order to get some time in the front row. The Royals led early, but Santa Barbara rallied as Clark had two kills midway through the frame and the Dons tied it at 15-15 on a block by Clifford Anderson and setter Ryan Worley. Stubbornley, the Royals (13-8, 3-3) would never hand the lead over despite three more tied scores down the stretch.

Ploch put away a kill that cut the Royals lead to 22-20, but Johnson and McKenzie came through with back-to-back kills that forced match point. A Slaught put-away and a Royals hitting error were enough to for a San Marcos timeout, but Holliday’s tip followed to end the match.



  1. Sbdonsparent says

    Wow that chad arneson said some real surprising things. he’s a pretty sore loser. I’m reconsidering my school choice.

  2. after listening to the interview with the sb coach what was it that he said that makes u think he was a “sore loser?” all he said was that it was a tough loss and his team didn’t play good while admitting that san marcos played better. just my 2 cents.

  3. Chad repeatedly praised Coach Kuntz and gave credit to the Royals team for playing hard and winning from a team that was “better on paper”. SM was an obvious underdog and pulled off a remarkable upset. Coach Arneson is a competitor and he was disappointed that his kids were not able put the pieces together to pull out a win.
    If that interview interview is enough to make a parent reconsider his or her “school choice”, then that family is not cut out for the intensity of high level HS volleyball at any campus.