Mater Dei stays calm, remains unbeaten in league


SANTA ANA - The view from the top of the Trinity League suits the Mater Dei boys volleyball team just fine.

Mater Dei ended the first half of league play Thursday night with another league sweep, its fifth consecutive, as it defeated visiting St. John Bosco, 25-16, 30-28, 27-25.

The Monarchs (16-9, 5-0) have a two-game lead over Servite, Santa Margarita and St. John Bosco (12-7, 3-2) in the league standings. All three are 3-2 in league.

“We were able to keep our focus, stay level and play our game,” Monarchs junior Joe Brown said.

Brown also pointed to the team’s willingness to “keep on fighting,” and that was evident in the second set.

Late in the set, Mater Dei survived set point three times before getting an ace from Daniel Nguyen and another point on a Bosco hitting error.

The Monarchs again had a balanced offensive attack, led by setter Garrett Zolg. Brown had 12 kills and Brandon Hicks had 11. Sterling Miles and Joey Storbeck had nine and seven, respectively.

“We’ve given him the keys to the Ferrari,” Mater Dei coach Pat Connolly said of how much trust he has in Zolg. “He’s great. He distributes the offense. We’re fortunate to have a great setter, and he’s fortunate enough to have hitters that can put the ball away in any real situation.”

Connolly attributes Mater Dei’s ability to remain calm in tight situations to the experience the players gained from previous seasons at the varsity level.

“The core of our team last year, we had sophomores and freshmen playing,” he said. “Now, they’re juniors and sophomores, with a few seniors sprinkled in. We didn’t have a single senior on the floor last year.

“In terms of those tight sets, last year we certainly probably would have dropped it and then we would have been battling with Bosco or any other team with a four or five-game (match). Now, the leadership and experience has paid huge dividends to close out these sets for us.”

Matt Donatucci led the Braves with 16 kills.

The teams will meet again May 3 at St. John Bosco.

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