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Chaminade Comes Up Short

Volleyball: Eagles can't match up to tall lineup of Santa Ynez in 15-4, 15-7, 15-5 in Division III final.


CYPRESS — Chaminade High, Team Gymless in recent days, ran into a bigger problem Saturday. A much bigger problem.

Appearing in their first boys' volleyball championship, the Eagles lost to perennial power Santa Ynez, 15-4, 15-7, 15-5, in the Southern Section Division III boys' volleyball title match at Cypress College.

Santa Ynez, taller at almost every position and infinitely more experienced, won its fifth championship in six years.

Sophomore Matt McKinney had 15 kills and USC-bound Charley Witt added 14 for top-seeded Santa Ynez (24-1), which held a decisive blocking edge thanks to five starters who stand at least 6 feet 4.

Adam Hickerson had 15 kills for the second-seeded Eagles (19-4), who endured a herky-jerky couple of days in which they couldn't practice in their own gym.

On Thursday, they were boxed out of the gym because of a school rally that honored the senior class. On Friday, "Eaglemania," an end-of-the-school-year celebration in the gym, forced the Eagles to practice for a little over an hour at nearby Taft High.

Chaminade rarely enjoyed a lead against Santa Ynez and its only comeback of note came at the worst time . . . trailing, 12-2, in the second game. Nonetheless, the Eagles reeled off five of the next six points, closing to within 13-7 and forcing Santa Ynez to call two timeouts.

Reserve middle blocker Art D'Egidio had four kills during the run, as the second-seeded Eagles (19-4) found holes in the middle of the Santa Ynez defense.

But with Santa Ynez serving, Chaminade opposite hitter Jon Dudor hit into the net and Adam Hickerson mishandled a set to end the game.

Santa Ynez, the overwhelming favorite, fought off its toughest challenge of the match.

"It's hard when people talk about being heavy favorites because anything can happen," said Coach Chip Fenenga of Santa Ynez. "In that second game, Chaminade really started to play well."

In the third game, Chaminade melted after holding a 3-2 lead, allowing Santa Ynez to score nine of the next 10 points.

Santa Ynez had six blocks, Chaminade none in the third game. Santa Ynez finished with a 9-4 advantage in blocks.

"We knew they were good," said Coach Eric Dick of Chaminade. "We were just a half-step behind."

The Eagles completed an eye-opening turnaround this season.

The Eagles, who won only five matches two years ago, tied Alemany for second place in Mission League play and twice defeated traditional powerhouse Harvard-Westlake.

The Eagles easily outdistanced any previous playoff performance by Chaminade teams.

"I'm not disappointed at all," said setter Paul Jocas of Chaminade. "I'm happy we made it this far. We lost to a good team, so it's not bad."

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