Most Paraclete boys’ volleyball players would tell the same narrative about the CIF-Southern Section Division 5 playoff final game.
“We thought we had it,” Paraclete coach Rion Terry said. We decelerated.
Brett Novak concurred.
“After the first set, we got too comfortable,” Novak remarked. “Too many unforced errors.”
That was the story versus top-seeded Wiseburn-Da Vinci. The Spirits came back from an early first-set deficit to win the first set, but maybe they “got too comfortable,” as Terry and Novak said, and the Wolves won the next three sets to win the title with a 22-25, 25-13, 25-19, 25-22 win over Paraclete Saturday night at Cerritos College.
Paraclete wins first set, but Wiseburn-Da Vinci wins in 4.
“Today, we wanted to start fast, and we were really error-free in the first set,” Terry remarked. “They took momentum after we let off the gas. Though disappointing, we had a terrific season. I admire the boys.”
Ironically, the Spirits (24-10), a sluggish starter, came back from an 8-3 deficit in the first set to grab the lead.
After a hitting mistake, the Wolves trailed 8-4. Paraclete’s Andrew Rosell joined the game and scored eight straight points, including two blocks and a kill by Novak and four hitting errors by Wiseburn-Da Vinci (35-11).
Paraclete capitalized on the replacement of Wolves 6-foot-5 middle blocker Amir Grant, whose defense seemed immovable at moments. Grant’s 14 kills and 10 blocks stymied the Spirits. Wisbeburn-Da Vinci led in kills 45-38.
Paraclete will play Eastlake in the CIF State Division 3 Southern Regional Championships in Chula Vista today. The Spirits are seventh and the Titans (31-7) second. Paraclete might play the CIF champion if it wins and Wiseburn-Da Vinci wins.
“Today, we controlled everything,” Novak added. I thought the second and third sets destroyed us, but we have state. Focus on the state tournament and we’ll see them again. I hope we meet again.”
After a Santiago Vazquez kill, a Noah Martin and Brett Byrne block, and a Jacob Linares kill, the Spirits led 18-12. The Wolves rallied to lead 20-19.
Paraclete won six of the next eight points, the final three after Wolves blunders.
The Spirits left their game in the huddle as Wiseburn-Da Vinci came out strong. The Wolves startled Paraclete by winning the first seven points and 11 of 13 to lead 11-2.
“We conceded many points in the second set. “Simple mistakes,” Vazquez added. “That set was comfortable. We probably gave up. We improved in the third and fourth sets, but we made too many blunders. The first set drained us.
It’s unfortunate because it’s my last year, but we have state. This can teach us.”
Linares lead the Spirits with 10 kills, while Vazquez had nine. Byrne killed seven and Luc Jundy five. Novak led with seven blocks and Martin earned three kills.
Paraclete couldn’t recover from a double-digit lead after the second set’s start, and Wiseburn-Da Vinci evened the match.
The Spirits started the third set well, splitting the opening 32 points. Wiseburn-Da Vinci led 19-16 after a Wolves service error and Malakai Tuakoi’s kill and block. The Wolves led 22-18 after three consecutive kills.
Linares stated they were anxious but delighted. “We didn’t play well after the first set. We had to catch up in the third and fourth sets. I guess we started it but couldn’t finish. This will teach us.”
Both teams battled in the fourth set. The Wolves came back from 9-6 to lead 10-9. The Spirits again led 13-12, but Wiseburn-Da Vinci went on a 4-0 run to grab a 16-13 lead.
Paraclete rallied with two kills from Vazquez and Byrne to cut the advantage to one at 22-19. Unfortunately, Grant killed Paraclete twice to destroy their title aspirations.
“I’m proud of how we played,” Novak added. “We surprised everyone this season.”