San Clemente finds way to beat Tesoro in five sets


SAN CLEMENTE –The San Clemente boys volleyball team faced an uphill climb after dropping the first set of its South Coast League match against Tesoro on Tuesday.

The task increased in difficulty as starters Bryce Curtis and Aaron Strange went down with left ankle injuries.

The 10th-ranked Tritons overcame all of that to defeat eighth-ranked Tesoro, 19-25, 25-20, 21-25, 25-22, 15-13, at San Clemente High.

San Clemente (14-7, 3-1) moved into a three-way tie for first place with Tesoro and Trabuco Hills.

“I tell the guys at the start of the year, you don’t know when your time is going to come,” San Clemente coach Ken Goldstone said.

Jess Hunt led the Tritons with 19 kills and Kyler Presho had 13. Kyle Merrill, a junior outside hitter, also contributed 13 kills.

“He came in and played great for us,” Goldstone said of Merrill.

The Tritons also received an unexpected contribution from senior Paul Castellana, who had not played in a match this due to knee issues.

In his first action of the season, Castellana, one of the team’s captains, chipped in five kills. After the injuries to Curtis and Stange, Castellana was needed on the court.

“I’ve been out for three months now with knee injuries,” Castellana said. “I just got the green light (from the doctors) two days ago, only had two days of practice. When Aaron got injured, he (Goldstone) had to put me in.

“I could feel the adrenaline, and I was shaky going out there, but I wanted to play.”

Castellana entered in the third set, after Strange was injured. In that set, Tesoro withstood a late San Clemente charge to prevail to take a 2-1 lead in the match.

The Tritons rallied from an 18-15 deficit to win the fourth set, and fittingly it was Castellana who sealed the victory with a kill.

Tesoro led, 11-8, in the fifth set, but San Clemente eventually took the lead, 14-13. On match point, Hunt sealed the victory with a block.

“I told them this was an important week,” Goldstone said. “I thought if we were the more aggressive team, we’ll be alright. I didn’t want them to hold back or be on the defensive. We wanted to make plays.”

Cody McLaughlin led Tesoro with 28 kills.

The teams will meet again April 28.

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