GVB: Royals pull off season sweep of Dons

San Marcos defeated Santa Barbara for the second time this season on Tuesday night. (File Photo)

San Marcos defeated Santa Barbara for the second time this season on Tuesday night. (File Photo)

Santa Barbara High was five sideouts away from taking a 2-1 advantage in Tuesday?s crosstown girls volleyball match against San Marcos.

But the sideouts for a win never came as the visiting Royals dug practically everything, threw the Dons out of sync with tough serving and fought back from a 20-12 deficit to win 32-30 in the third set.

The stunning comeback at J.R. Richards Gym sparked San Marcos to a 19-25, 25-17, 32-30, 25-20 victory that gave it second place in the Channel League at 5-3, a season sweep against the league-champion Dons (6-2) and the unofficial city volleyball championship.

“To come back to win that game is so much fun,? San Marcos coach Erica Menzel said of the third set. ?Those are the kind of memories they?re going to remember, especially doing it here. They earned it and they worked for it.?

A nine-point serving run by Anika Wilson keyed the comeback.

Anastasia Kunz led the San Marcos defense with 20 digs.

Anastasia Kunz led the San Marcos defense with 20 digs.

Santa Barbara coach John Gannon knew the set would come down to which team could make plays off of tough serves.

“I told the girls during a timeout in the third set, ?Hey, this set is going to come down to serving and passing,?” he said. “We were doing a better job and then all of sudden serving and passing just left us.”

A shanked pass of a Wilson serve gave the Royals a 21-20 lead. The score went back and forth. The Dons had a chance to serve for the set at 29-28 but they served the ball out. They had another opportunity at 30-29, but San Marcos middle Emma Harrah scored on a dink to knot the score.

A net violation gave San Marcos a 31-30 lead before Chloe Allen put away the set point after a great dig by Anastasia Kunz.

Kunz played one of her best matches at libero. She had a 20 digs.

“Stasi did a really good job getting a lot of balls up and Chloe did a good job, and it just clicked,” said Harrah of the defensive effort.

“Anastasia played awesome for us tonight,” raved Menzel. “She did exactly everything we asked her to do and was in control of that position. She did an awesome job.”

Chloe Allen was a hammer on the outside, leading a balanced San Marcos attack with 22 kills and a .340 hitting average Harrah had 14 kills, Emily Allen 13 kills and Wilson six kills. Setter Andie O’Donnell returned from an illness and had 55 assists.

Santa Barbara’s Emily Rottman handed out 44 assists. Tessa Dewell led the Dons hitters with 11 kills, followed by Lourda Weger with nine and Jackie Starnes with eight.

Santa Barbara usually controls the flow of a match with its solid ball control. But the Royals took control of this match after the first set.

?We came into this really excited because we beat them at home,? said Emily Allen. ?We knew we could win, and beating them would mean we would get second in league and be city champs. That kind of got us really excited.?

Besides the importance of finishing second in league, Menzel used the city championship angle as another way to motivate her team.

“In playoffs, finishing second and third is a big difference,” she said. “And, we put something else on it as far as city champs. For them, the city champs thing was more about bragging rights. That was another incentive besides playoffs. They wanted to win.”

Consecutive aces by Emily Allen broke a 10-10 tie in the second set and the Royals never trailed again.

?We served tough,? Menzel said. ?And, once we got our passing consistent in the second game, we started to be more aggressive hitting and we started to be more aggressive from the service line, and we put them into a lot of trouble plays.?

?We came out a little slow in the first game, but after that we turned it around,?? said Emily Allen. ?The energy in the second game was huge, and definitely picking it up in the third game really helped.?

For Santa Barbara, the third-set breakdowns were uncharacteristic of a team that is known for its steady play.

“We got a little tight, that?s something that happens,” Gannon said. “It?s kind of tough when you have that lead, there?s this kind of expectation and you lose focus. We just didn?t pass like we have in the past; we didn?t side out like we do and then we get into a tight set. We did a nice job coming back, but we didn?t execute like we needed to.”

He noted that San Marcos is more physical than his squad.

?They?re a tough team for us because when they?re passing the ball well, they?re swinging and they just have more power offensively,” he said. “It?s hard. Sometimes you can dig that power but other times you come out and you can?t. They served tougher than us and passed better than us.?