Capistrano Valley was missing some of its pieces, but that didn't stop the Cougars from putting together an impressive 15-4, 15-13, 15-9 victory over Irvine in a nonleague boys' volleyball match Wednesday at Capistrano Valley High.
The Cougars were without middle blocker Brad Leach, who was benched for missing practice unexcused, and Scott Lister, who is recovering from off-season knee surgery. However, Capistrano Valley found ample relief in sophomore Ryan Thurlow, who was brought up from the junior varsity before the match.
"I didn't want to bring him up unless I knew he would get some playing time," Capistrano Valley Coach Darren Utterback said. "I didn't want to see a sophomore just sitting on the bench."
Thurlow started for the Cougars and came up with seven kills in the first game. Three of his spikes went for points, including two in a row in a deciding six-point run that gave Capistrano Valley an 8-2 lead.
Utterback then rotated Thurlow out for the second game and inserted Mike Tully. Tully, who missed the opening game because of an illness that kept him out of practice, helped the Cougars rally from a 12-9 deficit with seven kills in Game 2.
With a considerable size advantage up front, the Cougars (1-1) dominated the net. Junior setter Chris Seiffert, brother of 1993 Times player of the year Eric Seiffert, led the Cougars with nine blocks and was equally effective setting up kills.
"I think Chris and (Laguna Beach's) Kurt Nelson are the two best setters around here," Utterback said. "They are a little bit different in that Chris is a bit more athletic and Kurt's a really smart player."
Utterback, who is in his first season with the Cougars after coaching at Capistrano Valley Christian for two years, was equally pleased with his team's passing.
"Our passing is pretty good and that's a biggie because of this offense," he said. "If there's no passing, the blockers can set up a lot easier."
Senior Omar Rawi led the Cougars' attack with nine kills, while Andy Matlaf, Thurlow and Tully each had seven.
Mark Ramirez had 12 kills and Blair Eldridge had nine kills and seven blocks for Irvine (2-1).