BVB: Royals dominate first rounder

Christian Widmer, left, Taylor Mann, right, and the Royals enjoyed a significant size advantage over Arcadia.

Christian Widmer, left, Taylor Mann, right, and the Royals enjoyed a significant size advantage over Arcadia.


Taylor Mann is back manning the middle for San Marcos just in time for CIF.

The Royals’ senior saw his most significant playing time since breaking his foot six weeks ago and San Marcos’ top-seeded boys volleyball team knocked off visiting Arcadia on Tuesday in the first round of the Southern Section’s CIF D2 playoff.

San Marcos (26-3), seeking its first CIF title since 1999, breezed through the first two sets and won the third with its reserves on the court, winning 25-14, 25-12, 25-11.

Mann tried to play in San Marcos’ last match but had to sit down after experiencing too much pain. The starting middle returned to make an impact on Tuesday.

San Marcos' Shane Hauschild makes it hard on Arcadia's Sai Chintamaneni in Tuesday's CIF match.

San Marcos’ Shane Hauschild makes it hard on Arcadia’s Sai Chintamaneni in Tuesday’s CIF match.

“It felt good. It felt really good being back,” Mann said. “It still hurts, but I’m getting back into it.”

Mann finished the second game with a solid kill and totaled six for the match. Royals head coach Roger Kuntz was thrilled to see him back on the court.

“We got Taylor healthy so this is the first time we’ve been able to play him for a lot of a match. We’re excited that he’s healthy,” Kuntz said. “He was our starting middle going into the season. Now it’s tough because Jake Castanha played real well for us too. But now we have depth again at the middle position which is good for us.”

Kuntz said Mann’s return had extra significance.

“When a senior doesn’t get to play a part of the season, you really bleed for him because he’s worked for his whole career for this moment to be surrounded by a great team. He’s one of our four captains and it was exciting to see him back out there again.”

The Royals were playing their first match in over two weeks.

“It’s been way too long,” Kuntz said.

The Royals didn’t show any rust against Arcadia, jumping out to a 7-1 lead in the first set. The under-sized Apaches had no answer for San Marcos’ outside hitters Baker Johnson and Shane Hauschild, who combined for 18 kills before sitting out the third set. Setter Christian Widmer collected 29 assists before he too sat out the final game.

Arcadia didn’t have a player over six-feet tall. Howard Huang was its best weapon, a quick leaper with a high vertical who did most of his damage from the middle.

After the Royals took a 7-1 lead to start the match, Huang got San Marcos’ attention with a powerful spike that went straight down off the floor. Another kill by Huang later in the set brought the Apaches to within 17-12 before the Royals closed it out by winning eight of the next 10 points.

San Marcos closed out every set convincingly. In the second, San Marcos took 10 of the final 12 points, and, in the third it was 10 of the last 11.

Arcadia coach David Iosia said it was a good experience for his players to see a talented team like San Marcos, who were better than anyone other they had faced this season other than perhaps Burroughs, who won their Pacific League. San Marcos could see eighth-seeded Burroughs in the third round.

“We didn’t expect to win,”  Iosia said. “We just go out there and play our hearts out, bringing our ‘A’ game. That’s the best we can do.”

The Apaches (13-11) return all but four seniors next season.

The third set was led by reserves Connor Everman, Emerson Pizzinat, Ben Hauschild, Greg Kronen, Joe Terre, Jake Pighetti and Mann.

San Marcos advances to Thursday’s second round and will face either Calvary Chapel or Oaks Christian.