BVB: Dons pull through in the 5th set against San Marcos

Connor Everman of San Marcos hits against the Santa Barbara block of Cord Pereira (5) and JM Cage. Everman led the Royals' attack with 23 kills.

Connor Everman of San Marcos hits against the Santa Barbara block of Cord Pereira (5) and JM Cage. Everman led the Royals’ attack with 23 kills.


Unlike the first crosstown meeting, Santa Barbara found itself in for a knock-down, drag-out fight against San Marcos in the rematch at the Thunderhut on Thursday night.

The host Royals absorbed some punishing hits with great defensive play in the back row and senior Connor Everman dished out some heavy blows. But the Dons dug deep and managed to pull out a five-set win to remain undefeated in the Channel League.

Santa Barbara got 24 kills from Hayden Millington, setter Cord Pereira dished out 61 assists and libero Barron Mainz was nearly flawless passing and picked up 36 digs in leading the Dons to a 25-17, 23-25, 25-21 17-25, 15-13 victory over San Marcos. The Dons swept the Royals in the first round of league play.

Santa Barbara improves to 5-0 in Channel League  while San Marcos falls to 3-2.

“I got to give San Marcos credit, that’s probably about the best team defense I’ve seen them play,” said Santa Barbara coach Chad Arneson.

The Royals were spectacular on defense. Libero Sean Estabrooks refused to let a ball hit the floor, and his gutsy play carried over to his teammates. Time and again, they got their hands on big hits from Hayden Millington, Jasper Rhodes and Kyle Skinner, and San Marcos would often convert those defensive plays into points.

Everman was the attack leader for the Royals, blasting 23 kills from the outside and the back row. Ben Hauschild added 12 kills and Dane Pederson had 10.

Pederson and middle Ian McLain put up a big block on Skinner to give San Marcos a 13-12 lead in the fifth set. But Santa Barbara answered with a kill by Grant Galitzer in the middle. The Dons then made some big defensive plays of their own to score the last two points and win the match. The Dons converted a dig into a Rhodes kill to make it 14-13 and Galitzer got a touch a San Marcos attack, Mainz scooped up the deflection and Pereira set Skinner for the match-clinching kill. Skinner had 12 kills on the night.

“We finally matched their intensity in that last game, Arneson said. “We matched their team defense and pulled through in the end. It wasn’t pretty but we found a way to win. That’s the important thing.”

“They executed when they had the opportunities,” San Marcos coach Jon Newton said of the Dons. “It was just great volleyball play on their point.”

The Royals got a strong performance from Everman. He was hitting through and off the Santa Barbara block all night. In the fourth set, he put away three consecutive kills to open up a 20-15 lead.

“He definitely came to play tonight, which was great for us,” Newton said. “I don’t know what he ate, he ate his Wheaties or something but he came to play and did a great job executing.”

San Marcos setter Greg Kronen did a nice job spreading the ball around.

Arneson praised the play of Mainz, Pereira and Galitzer in the middle. Mainz was rock solid passing the ball, Pereira gutted out a calf injury late in the match and Galitzer provided the Dons with some offense in the middle.