Long Beach secures WSC title at SBCC

Dakota Smith had 18 kills and Aquiles Montoya hit .444 on Wednesday as SBCC gave top-ranked Long Beach a battle before falling 3-1 in the men’s volleyball season finale at the Sports Pavilion.

The Vikings (15-2, 8-2) secured the WSC title with a 25-19, 23-25, 25-18, 26-24 victory. Matt Winslow had 13 kills and Montoya added nine kills for the Vaqueros (10-7, 5-5), who had their four-match win streak snapped.

To finish third and make the playoffs, SBCC needed to upset Long Beach and have Moorpark lose to last-place Santa Monica.

“We had playoffs on our mind and maybe we thought about that a little too much,” said sophomore setter Jordon Dyer, who had 50 assists. “It wasn’t our best match of the year but it definitely wasn’t the worst. We took a game off the best team in the state and almost took two.”

There were eight ties in the first half of the first set before the Vikings went on a 5-1 run to take a 23-18 lead. Rob McLean capped the 25-19 win with a kill in the middle.

The Vaqueros rallied from a 10-5 deficit to capture the second set. They fell behind 23-22, then reeled off three straight points with the last two coming on a Montoya block and Smith’s kill through the block.

Montoya had three blocks and Chris Utroske added two.

“I wasn’t worried when we lost the first set,” said Vaquero coach Armen Zakarian. “We’re the type of team that makes adjustments and that’s what happened in the second set. We really earned that win.

“Long Beach dictated tempo all night long. They limited our serving zones and that kept them in system. Their middles were really good tonight. And they didn‘t miss many serves.”

The Vikings built leads of 14-10 and 20-15 in the third set on the way to taking a 2-1 lead in the match. The Vaqueros grabbed an early 5-2 lead in set No. 4, then fell behind 18-13.

SBCC stormed back and tied it at 22-22 when Cody Kreitzer tooled one off the block and Long Beach hit a ball long. Smith fought off one match point at 23-24 with a kill off the block.

“It was fun to see our guys battle back,” said Zakarian. “I really thought it was going to be a five-gamer. When we tied it at 23-all and had Winslow coming in the front row, I thought we had a great chance to win.”

Brett Anema, a 6-7 middle blocker, ended the match with two straight kills.

The Vaqueros played four of their first five conference matches on the road and went 1-4. They were 4-1 in the second round.

“It was a challenge this year and I wouldn’t want anything less,” said Dyer. “We all made it through and we’re all really good friends. That’s the best thing about playing on a team, you come out with 15 best friends.”