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Simi Valley Able to Make Lengthy Recovery

Boys' volleyball: Pioneers drop two games to Canyon before coming back to take nonleague match.


SIMI VALLEY — Maybe Simi Valley High is ready for Royal.

It certainly didn't look that way for the first hour against Canyon, with the Pioneers tripping and slipping to a two-game deficit.

But Simi Valley recovered nicely, defeating Canyon, 8-15, 9-15, 15-9, 15-1, 15-13, in a nonleague boys' volleyball match Monday night at Simi Valley.

Despite the efforts of Canyon opposite hitter Gideon Gibson, who topped 30 kills for the third time this season, Simi Valley demonstrated come-from-behind skills that could come in handy on April 5, when the Pioneers (5-0) play at perennial power Royal.

At the very least, Simi Valley appears to have assembled one of its best teams in years, if not in school history.

The Pioneers toppled Thousand Oaks in four games last week and sported an offense against Canyon that was dormant at first, but dominant as the match progressed.

Jon Moreno, a 6-foot-4 junior opposite hitter, delivered 24 kills, Ryan Meek added 21 and Jason Lambertson had 19 for Simi Valley, which had to play flawless volleyball--and almost did--in the final three games.

After a comeback in which it reeled off a 24-1 burst at one juncture, Simi Valley nearly lost, allowing Canyon to fight off nine match points and close within 14-13 in the fifth game.

But the Pioneers came away victorious after Canyon was called for a net violation.

Let the countdown to Royal begin.

"I felt this match would set the standard for the rest of the season," said Simi Valley Coach Dean Borth, who once played setter at Royal. "This says a lot about where we've been, where we are and where we're going."

Simi Valley was going nowhere after the first two games, passing with imprecision and allowing Canyon to ring up seven aces.

But the Pioneers straightened out their passing and, as a result, their offense.

Canyon, on the other hand, wilted after holding a 9-8 lead in the third game, failing to score a point the rest of the game and scoring only one in the fourth game.

Only Gibson, who had 34 kills, played consistently for Canyon (2-2).

"None of our hitters got the job done," said Coach Dave Gutierrez, "except for Gideon."

The same could not be said about Simi Valley. Five players had at least nine kills for the Pioneers, who avenged a loss to Canyon in the first round of the playoffs last year.

"This was the first game I scheduled [during the off-season]," Borth said. "I wanted it badly."

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