Royals get through wild-card round, earn shot at Santa Margarita

Some bad habits crept back into San Marcos’ volleyball team Monday night in its CIF Division 1 wild-card match against visiting Long Beach-Cabrillo.

The Royals managed to overcome them, as well as a scrappy bunch of Jaguars, to win in four games and advance into the main draw, where they’ll face second-seeded Santa Margarita in a first-round match on the road Tuesday.

San Marcos’ 25-16, 23-25, 25-17, 25-20 win wasn’t a thing of beauty, but it was a rare postseason match on the home court.

Spencer Johnson and Ben McKenzie provided the pop in the Royals’ attack with 16 and 10 kills, respectively, and Jackson Kunz added seven kills and two service aces. Libero Kyle Estabrooks threw is body all over the court and picked up 24 digs.

The windmill arm swing of Dylonn Viliamu paced Cabrillo (9-10) with 17 kills.

“Sometimes you just got to win ugly,” said San Marcos setter Neil Holliday. “For the most part, when we were getting good passes, I was trying dish it out the best I could. We have good arm swings on the outside with Jackson, Ben and Spencer. At times, we kind of faltered and went back to old habits, but we pulled out a win, and a win is a win.”

San Marcos coach Roger Kuntz said Cabrillo had something to do with his team’s erratic play Monday.

“We played real hard tonight, but that team, we knew they were gong to be scrappy coming in. We knew just from their demeanor and make up that they played real passionate volleyball. They’re in a tough league down there, so they’re used to playing against tough teams day in and day out. They play with no fear.

“At times we were pretty erractic and didn’t look like the team we’ve been the last few weeks,” he continued. “But we did enough to get it done, and that’s really important this time of year.”

The Royals hope to clean things up by the time they arrive at Santa Margarita, the team that won Santa Barbara’s Tournament of Champions.

San Marcos played Santa Margaria in the TOC.

“They’re a very smooth team. We know exactly what they’ve got, there are no surprises when we go down there,” Kuntz said. “We’re going to have to play our A-plus game and they’re going to have go bring their B game into the gym, for us to have a chance.”

But it’s the playoffs, where some times the unexpected happens.

“At this time of year, we can catch somebody, just like teams have caught us a little bit off. Anything can happen,” said Kuntz.