Esperanza halts Dons’ CIF run in quarters

Santa Barbara High’s electrifying CIF run came to a close on Saturday night in a 25-22, 25-20, 25-20 loss to Esperanza in the Division 1 quarterfinals.

The Dons had won their first two playoff matches in five-set thrillers but succumbed to the second-seeded Aztecs in straight sets.

“We played well,” said Dons head coach Chad Arneson. “Our guys put up a good fight, but in the end we didn’t come out on the right end.”

Holden Ploch led the team with seven kills and Tristan Fauntleroy added six. Casey Slaught returned from being out two matches to record five kills. Gavin Trudeau collected 29 assists.

“I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished this year,” he said, citing a Channel League championship and All-CIF Academic Team recognition.

Arneson thanked his seniors for their careers with the Dons.

“They put their heart and soul into this program. I commend them on that and what they’ve done for Santa Barbara volleyball.”

In the end, Esperanza’s middle was just too tough.

“They exposed us with their height,” Arneson explained.

The Dons finish their season with a 21-8 record.

Esperanza joins the other three top seeds, No. 1 Loyola, No. 3 Mira Costa and No. 4 Servite in Tuesday’s semifinals.