BVB: Royals deliver in crunch time, outlast DP in five

San Marcos vs. Dos Pueblos boys volleyball - March, 2013

San Marcos’ Baker Johnson hits through the block of Dos Pueblos’ Jonny Davis, left, and CJ Zajic during Tuesday’s Channel League match in the Thunderhut. The Royals won in five sets.

The confidence keeps growing for the San Marcos boys volleyball team.

After failing to close out a marathon first set and dropping a 34-32 decision, the Royals never let down, battled toe-to-toe with crosstown rival Dos Pueblos and pulled out a thrilling five-set Channel League victory before an appreciative crowd at the Thunderhut Tuesday night.

The set scores were 32-34, 25-19, 23-25, 25-23, 15-9.

?That was just a tremendous win for us tonight,? San Marcos coach Roger Kuntz said. “All credit to DP, they played real tough tonight. They always bring it every time.?

It was battle royale between two top-10 teams in CIF Division 2 ? San Marcos is ranked sixth in the latest poll and Dos Pueblos is No. 8. They met just four days ago in the best-of-three quarterfinals of the Dos Pueblos Invitational and the Royals prevailed in three sets.

So, it wasn?t surprising to DP coach Chris Hughes that the rivals went the distance again on Tuesday.

?I had a feeling going in that?s the way it would turn out, and sure enough it turned out that way,? said Hughes.

Kuntz admitted he had an inkling too, ?but quite honestly, I?m getting a little more confident with our guys,? he added. ?I thought we would win this in three tonight. When we lost the first game (I was thinking) we?ve been snake bit for years. But, quite honesty, these guys are not part of that history and they?ve come up through this thing very confident they could beat (Dos Pueblos) and they showed it tonight. They proved it with their character and their play in the box that they can go toe to toe with good teams.?

The quality of play was tremendous, and there seemed to be very little separating the two programs. They have big-time hitting, fearless digging, slick setting and good ball control.

The crowd roared in appreciation as the teams stepped onto the court for the deciding set.

In the end, it was a high school ruling, a couple of ballhandling miscues by the Chargers and some clutch hitting from Shane Hauschild, Baker Johnson and Chris Newton that enabled the Royals to win fourth and fifth sets.

Hauschild led all hitters with 22 kills while Johnson added 14 kills and Newton 11.

Dos Pueblos also had good offensive balance. Josh Lemons and Andrew Kenyon led the Chargers with 13 kills apiece and Jonny Davis and Jordan Foster each had eight kills. Defensively, Niko Plessons was stellar in the back row, coming up with 19 digs. Jackson Wopat made his debut and had four kills and three blocks.

Foster hit down the line to start the fifth set. San Marcos responded with four straight points: Hauschild and Johnson recorded kills, DP hit a ball out and Johnson won a joust for a 4-1 lead.

The Chargers got two points back on another Foster kill and a San Marcos hitting error.

Then came a key play. Hauschild blasted a ball that DP dug to the outside of the court on the San Marcos side. The Chargers chased the ball and bumped it back to their side of the court. The referee, however, ruled the ball was out of play.

?It was a correct call,? said Hughes. ?In high school volleyball, the ball can?t cross the plane of the net (outside the court), so when the ball went to the San Marcos side out of bounds we can?t go after that ball. It?s basically a safety issue. It was an awesome play that would have been a deal breaker, I think; momentum and all that stuff.?

The call stopped a DP run and gave San Marcos a 5-3 lead. Newton followed with a hit off the block and the Chargers committed a hitting error, making the score 7-3.

The Royals took a commanding six-point lead (12-6) on a shanked pass of a Johnson short serve.

?In the fifth game, we served real tough,? Kuntz said. ?They were playing from the 10- to 15-foot line and we were in system. We would get the ball up to the net.”

Kuntz praised the passing of his libero, Sean Estabrooks.

DP kept fighting. Its defense made three incredible digs, Erick Mathison followed with a kill, and Lemons had a solo block, cutting the deficit to 13-9.

But Hauschild ripped a ball that was dug into the stands and DP hit the next ball out to end the nearly 2.5-hour match.

Hauschild said his team?s energy made the difference in the fifth set. ?We got together and said, ?No matter what happens let?s be loud and obnoxious as possible. Let?s have as much team spirit as possible no matter what.? We had full energy, the whole team. We had them on their heels.?

For DP, Hughes said the team needed ?somebody to step up, especially in crunch time, and that didn?t happen. We had a couple of mental breakdowns. I?m still looking for one or two players who will say, ?I want it in crunch time; I won?t make a mistake.? ?

The lefthanded Newton came through with some clutch hitting from the right side during the fourth set for San Marcos.

?I thought Chris Newton had an outstanding match for us tonight,” Kuntz said. “He doesn?t factor a lot in our offense from a statistical standpoint but his left hand on that back side was very effective for us. It opened up the front side for us,? said Kuntz.

Hauschild also gave props to his teammate.

?He was awesome today. They?re expecting a lot to go to me and Baker because we?re getting most of the kills on the team, but Chris really stepped up. He was getting solo blocks because they were committing on us,? said the junior outside hitter.

After two wins over the Chargers and a second-place finish at the DPI over the weekend, Hauschild called this ?the best week of volleyball ever.?

Even after the tough first-set loss, in which the Royals had nine set points, Hauschild said the team was confident it would win the match.?

?Obviously, if we?re in a game that close, why can?t we win the next game?? he said of the team?s mindset. ?We all got together as a group and talked: ?Guys, there?s no reason why we can?t win the rest of the games.? We truly believed that. We didn?t get down on ourselves at all.?