Saddleback Valley Christian celebrates with the championship trophy during the CIF-SS Division 4 championship at Cerritos College on Saturday.

SVC collects third consecutive CIF title


NORWALK – The Saddleback Valley Christian boys volleyball team comes from a school with an enrollment of fewer than 400 students. However, the small-school label doesn’t fit the Warriors on the volleyball court.

Saddleback Valley Christian captured its third consecutive CIF title, this time defeating St. Margaret’s, 28-26, 25-19, 25-12, in the CIF-SS Division 4 final Saturday at Cerritos College.

“It is just a unique group of guys,” SVC coach Ryan Van Rensselaer said. “It is trying to fill in (the team) with guys that haven’t played volleyball with Noah (Dyer) being the catalyst with (setter) Jon (Minsberg) and some of the other key guys. I’m just sitting on the sideline, kind of mentoring and shepherding them.”

Both teams will await the announcement of today’s CIF Southern California Regional pairings. That tournament begins Tuesday.

SVC (28-4) hadn’t faced much adversity this season, but made up for it in the first set against the Tartans.

The Warriors, who hadn’t lost a set in a best-of-5 match since mid-April, faced set point twice in the first set, but survived thanks to a kill from Dyer and block from Brandon Ketel to tie score at 24.

The Warriors eventually won the game and the tone of the match swung in their favor.

“We were struggling in the beginning and it seemed like we just needed to slow down and trust each other,” senior Matt Minsberg said. “We were a little tense, but once we realized that there are five other guys on the court that have your back, we started to play as a team and pulled it off.

“This (winning three titles) is amazing because not a lot of schools have done it.”

The Warriors carried over that momentum in the second set, connecting on a .556 hitting percentage, and took control of the match. Dyer had 11 kills in the second set.

“I think we got the wind knocked out of us,” said St. Margaret’s coach Jeremy Dailey of losing the first set.

Matt Nicholas led the Tartans with 14 kills. David Chou added 10.

Dyer finished with 25 kills for the Warriors. Trevor O’Reilly had eight. Jon Minsberg had 39 assists.

“We took control in game two and we knew if kept grinding away and doing what we do, that we should come out on top,” Van Rensselaer said. “After the second game, all of my boys had .300, .400 hitting percentage and our defense was picking up a little bit, and I knew that it was a just a matter of getting to that last game.

SVC is just the sixth school to win three consecutive CIF titles. The Warriors are the third county school to accomplish that feat. Laguna Beach (1981-83) and Whittier Christian (1991-93) are the others.

“I feel humbled to be in that esteemed group,” Van Rensselaer said.

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