Vaqueros sweep defending state champs

Cody Kreitzer had 13 kills and Matt Winslow added 12 on Friday night as SBCC swept defending state champion Irvine Valley in the Sports Pavilion. The scores were 26-24, 26-24, 25-22.

“We played great, we passed really well and we were having fun out there,” said Winslow, a 6-5 freshman from Clovis. “This was one of our best matches of the year.”

Dakota Smith had six kills and two aces. Smith and Chris Utroske (5 kills) both hit .454. Setter Jordon Dyer had 35 assists and Derek Martinez made 10 digs.

The Vaqueros (5-2) won for the third straight time in an exciting match. The biggest lead of the night was four points midway through the second set. Smith served six straight points and the Vaqueros went ahead 16-12 on a block by Utroske.

“There were no hiccups tonight,” said coach Armen Zakarian. “We’d go down three, I’d call a timeout and then we’d be up by one. We responded very well.”

Johnny Brand, a 6-4 middle hitter from Bishop Diego, had four stuff blocks and Utroske recorded three. Brand slammed an overpass to cap the 26-24 win in the second set.

The third set was a nailbiter with 12 ties and eight lead changes. Utroske snapped a 20-20 tie with a kill in the middle. Brand and Winslow produced back-to-back blocks to end the match.

The Vaqueros got key contributions from their bench with Aquiles Montoya serving the winning point in the first set and Michael Naki and Ty Dudley-Mann providing crucial serves in the third set.

“We had a majority of our players switch from spin serves to floaters because they were passing our spin serves very easily,” said Zakarian. “The balls were flying and they (IVC) started making mistakes.”

SBCC overcame a 17-14 deficit in the final set with a 5-0 run highlighted by Utroske winning a joust at the net and a roof block by Dyer.

“We’ve won our last three and that’s important for a young team,” Zakarian added. “On Saturday, we won semi-ugly and tonight was pretty. It was nice because these guys beat us in the playoffs last year and they’re the defending state champs.”

After taking the next two weeks off, the Vaqueros will open WSC play at Santa Monica on March 2.