GVB: Royals dominate Valencia, advance to quarterfinals

The way San Marcos was playing volleyball Thursday night it seemed like it had more than six players on the court in a second-round CIF Division 1A playoff match against Valencia at the Thunderhut.

The Royals refused to let the ball hit the floor on their side of the net, rolling to a 25-20, 25-13, 25-8 sweep and advancing to the quarterfinals on Saturday at either El Toro or Corona-Santiago.

San Marcos’ dominating performance was one to savor for the home fans. The Royals hit an impressive .370 as a team and made only four errors. Chloe Allen led a balanced attack with eight kills, Anika Wilson and Emily Allen each had six kills, Emma Harrah had four, Kamille Williams three and Gabi Peoples two. Defensively, the team scooped up 29 digs, led by Wilson’s nine.

“We really encourage each other and push each other out there,” said Peoples, San Marcos’ sophomore setter. “We put pressure on the other team, we had the right connections on the court and the chemistry was awesome.”

Everything started to click when the Royals trailed 18-12 in the first set. They served tough, blocked balls, picked up digs, converted in transition and outscored the Foothill League-champion Vikings 13-2 the rest of way.

Williams was a force at the net during the run. She and Gabi Peoples combined on a block to make it 20-18 and then recorded a solo block for a 21-19.

“Kamille is my best friend. I’m so proud of her. She really made big strides in this game and it really set the tone for us,” said Peoples.

“We were blocking great and that’s part of our defensive mindset, the first row of defense and the second row of defense,” coach Erica Menzel Downing said. “Our second row of defense played great, too. We were running down balls.”

In the second set, the Royals broke open a close score with a four-point run to take a 15-9 advantage. The 15th point was something special. Cassidy Drury-Pullen dug a hard-hit ball that ricocheted off the face of Chloe Allen. Drury-Pullen stayed with the ball and bumped it over the net. Valencia hit it back, the Royals dug it and Peoples set Wilson for a put-away spike.

The outstanding play of the starters spread to the reserves. Drury-Pullen played solid at libero and served tough, and Taryn Stevens came in and kept rallies alive by picking up balls hit off the block.

“That’s been kind of our end-of-the-season thing, our defense and our attitude defensively,” said Downing.”They played really well tonight. They didn’t give up. We played point by point and we really had no mercy.”

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