Dons make early exit in CIF Division 1 playoffs

Unable to generate a consistent middle attack, the Santa Barbara High boys volleyball team relied heavily on its outside hitters Tuesday night in a CIF Division 1 first-round match against Palos Verdes.

The Dons hitters had some success, but against an opponent that plays in the same league as powerhouses Mira Costa and Redondo it wasn’t enough. Palos Verdes ended Santa Barbara’s season with a 25-16, 25-21, 24-26, 25-15 win at J.R. Richards Gym.

Holden Ploch and Alex Biedul supplied much of the Santa Barbara offense with 16 and 15 kills, respectively. But the lack of a steady middle of attack proved costly as Palos Verdes was able to score several points on blocks. Sea Kings middles Danny Welch and Mike Shepherd were effective in sliding over and preventing the Dons from going on big scoring runs.

After a slow beginning, Santa Barbara started to show life in the second game. But the jump serving and spiking of high flyer Shane Dyer made the difference for Palos Verdes. His strong play helped the Sea Kings take a 2-0 advantage.

The Dons retreated to their team room after the game. They came out more focused and aggressive in the third game, roaring to a 7-1 lead.

But Palos Verdes crept back, behind the hitting of Dyer and the aid of Santa Barbara miscues. Back-to-back hitting errors gave the Sea Kings a 20-18 lead, and they got to game-point (24-23) on a block by Welch on the outside.

Ploch evened the score for the Dons with a spike off the block, and Clifford Anderson followed with a solo block in the middle for a 25-24 lead.  A tough serve by Ploch set up a Casey Slaught kill for the winning point.

The Dons couldn’t sustain the momentum from the win into Game 4. It started to get away from them after an outside attack went long, giving Palos Verdes an 8-5 lead. Shepherd stuffed Anderson on the next play for a 9-5 advantage.

A couple of Palos Verdes errors and the hitting of Ploch and Slaught got Santa Barbara back into the match at 14-13. But back-to-back mistakes ignited a five-point run by the Sea Kings and put the Dons behind the eight ball.

A block on the outside by Ryan Marcil finished off the match for Palos Verdes and ended the season for the Dons (19-8).

Dyer led Palos Verdes (22-11) with 23 kills.


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