No. 4 Servite has too much firepower for Dos Pueblos

Dos Pueblos couldn’t match the efficiency of fourth-seeded Servite and was swept, 25-19, 25-13, 25-17, in a second round CIF Division 1 boys volleyball playoff match on Thursday at Sovine Gym.

The Chargers kept the score close in the first set, but the Trinity League champions stepped up their game and took control of the match with a nearly unstoppable middle attack.

“What ended up killing us is their one (attack),” DP coach Chris Hughes said. “Their two middles were absolutely fabulous. If you can’t stop the middle — and they pass well — that’s exactly what you want to do as a team, go back to the middle.”

Servite middles Sam Hunt and Kyle Palmer combined for 13 kills and eight blocks.

“They hit around the block really well. That will take them deep in CIF, if they can pass that well to run the middle,” said Hughes.

Outside hitter Madison Hayden pounded nine kills to lead Servite.

The Friars (29-3) made the long trip from Anaheim knowing they were facing an opponent that pushed them the last time they met. Servite squeaked by the Chargers back in March in the playoffs of the Dos Pueblos Invitational.

“We were definitely expecting to be a little rusty early on playing against a big crowd and a great team like Dos Pueblos,” Servite coach Matt Marrujo said. “It’s hard. We’ve never made this long a trip before. We stayed in our routine and played well.”

“They had their starting group in the whole time for a reason,” Hughes said. “All my guys got in, which makes me really happy for this year and next year.”

Besides their potent hitting attack, the Friars showed the can play tough defense, too. They made several incredible saves on hits by Chargers Gabe Burdick, Mansai Conner, Kevin Pappas and Jackson Wopat.

“They had some unbelievable plays that a lot of players don’t make,” Hughes said. “Credit to them and their play but also, ‘Come on, that usually goes down.’

“We definitely prepared them for the next round, no doubt about that.”

Despite being swept, Hughes was pleased how his team competed against one of the top teams in the nation.

“I was really proud of the guys to come out and compete,” he said. “Servite is No. 4 in Southern California and probably in the top 4-5 in the nation, there’s no doubt about it. They definitely have a chance to win CIF this year.”

Burdick led the Chargers with nine kills and Mansai Conner added seven. Nathan Holms picked up seven digs and setter Keaton Arutian handed out 26 assists, and made a stellar kick save to keep a rally alive in the third set.

The Chargers finish the year at 14-12.

“It was a hard season for a lot of reasons, and we came through as a team,” said Hughes, proudly. “We had a good experience and we competed. That’s No. 1, we want to compete. We didn’t give up … it makes you proud. They’re Chargers. That’s what we do and we do it with class.”