Spartans spear boys’ volleyball 3-1 in first home game of the season


Olivia Mowad

Tyler Jorden ‘23 forces the opposing team to set over the net, allowing Foothill Tech an offensive chance.

Chloe Scofield, Editor-in-Chief

Not a single empty parking spot was to be found at the Cabrillo Middle School parking lot on Feb. 24, 2022. The Foothill Technology High School (Foothill Tech) Dragons boys’ volleyball team was scheduled to play the Rio Mesa High School (Rio Mesa) Spartans in their first home game of the 2022 season that afternoon, and the masses of parents and friends that came to support did not disappoint.

The first set started out the way every following set would begin for the duration of the game: a point for Rio Mesa. However, the Dragons managed to hold a short lead in the first half of the set after several clean hits from Tyler Jorden ‘23, Sean Scampone ‘23 and Brayden Jones ‘22, allowing the score to climb up to 12-9. First year player Max Holly ‘22 also began the set with a monster block, the first of many to follow. 

Holly mentioned that his inexperience in volleyball has not hindered his team experience, saying, “usually it’s hard to join a new team, but with these guys it was easy.”

A powerful hit by Chase Nielsen ‘22 flies over the blockers hands, forcing the opposition to dive to keep the play alive. (Olivia Mowad)

The Dragons began to lose their small lead when the Spartans fired out too many unsaveable kills to respond to. Contributions from Chase Nielsen ‘22 kept the Dragons neck-and-neck at the pinnacle of the set, and a kill from Matt Kyle ‘22 brought them back to a two point lead, but a series of mistakes and a short tip from Rio Mesa sealed the set for the Spartans, 26-24.

It was another slow start for the Dragons at the top of the second match, but they began to accumulate points on the scoreboard quickly and pulled ahead of the Spartans partly due to countless and consistent misfires from the Rio Mesa outside hitters. However, the real star of the night was newcomer Holly as he dominated the court with intense blocks and unstoppable kills that reigned terror on the Rio Mesa players. 

Sneaky tips from Jorden and Kyle and more mistakes from the Spartans allowed Foothill Tech to pull away confidently 20-11. Following even more detrimental offensive errors from Rio Mesa, Scampone finished off the set with a clean, untouched kill 25-15.

The third set started very similar to the previous, with lots of slow points off of offensive mistakes from both sides. Excellent plays from Kyle or Scampone would be followed by trivial violations and slip-ups. Holly tried to answer Rio Mesa’s growing confidence in their kills with a few ear-splitting blocks, but the Spartans’ hitting consistency was maintained throughout the set and the Dragons were left in the dust. 

After too many mistakes, Rio Mesa landed this set with a final ace serve, 25-16.

Moving into the deal-breaking set of the game, where both teams recognized that this could be the final match, it was a rough start for Foothill Tech. Most of their first few points were attributed to the Spartan’s mistakes, and they began to turn up the heat only after yet another powerful kill from Holly. But after several timeouts called by the Dragons and a successful block from Jorden, the Dragons lost any momentum that they had while Rio Mesa completed a whopping ten point run on their opposition, bringing the score to 19-7.

Head Coach Marc Denitz stated that in those final timeouts he told the players, “in this game, it’s the team that passes and serves, are the teams that win…we’ve got to make sure we pass, side out and play defense.”

Some final points from Jorden and Nielsen closed the gap a bit more, but the Spartans won the match on another ace serve, 25-13.

When asked about how this game’s outcome might affect the rest of the season, Coach Denitz said, “I don’t think it’s going to affect them very much…it’s a new opportunity, is the way we look at it.” 

Nielsen said that in practices they’d be working on, “passing, also the mental part of the game, where we have to be in our positions…timing for hits,” he also mentioned the need for more team bonding since the team has suffered a lot of absences due to Covid-19 exposures.

The Dragons have a chance to obtain a win on Tuesday, March 1, in an away game against Santa Paula High School.

Denitz closed with the hopeful sentiment of, “win, lose or draw, it’s going to be an exciting and fun season.”

What do you think?