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SVC on track for run at another title
With a new season came a new set of challenges for a team coming off consecutive CIF-SS titles.
As the Saddleback Valley Christian boys volleyball team heads into spring break, things have worked out well so far for Coach Ryan Van Rensselaer.
“Coming into this year, we had to fill some spots,” he said. “We have two new guys on the outside with no club experience (Spencer Alden and Matt Minsberg), and we have a freshman middle blocker (Brandon Ketel).
“I’ve just been blown away with how well the boys are playing right now. They have such a tight friendship and chemistry and that has helped us weather the storm.”
The Warriors (12-1 overall) are ranked 10th in the county. They opened San Joaquin League play Thursday with a three-set sweep of Orangewood Academy.
Saddleback Valley Christian won consecutive CIF-SS Division 5 titles in 2013 and 2014, and it advanced to the finals of the CIF SoCal Regional in Division III last year.
This year, the Warriors have moved up to CIF-SS Division 4, where they are currently the top-ranked team.
The Warriors have only one senior starter, Matt Minsberg.
Junior Noah Dyer (setter/opposite) and sophomore Jon Minsberg (setter/opposite) are the team’s captains. Sophomore defensive specialist Jacob Pelletier saw court action last year as did junior middle blocker Trevor O’Reilly.
The Warriors benefitted early in the season from playing in the Dos Pueblos Tournament.
“That weekend was about camaraderie and building chemistry,” Van Rensselaer said. “We played volleyball on the beach on Friday, went to dinner and had a scouting session with the coaches at UCSB. … That weekend was about building a foundation and getting everybody on the same page.
The Warriors advanced to the quarterfinals of the tournament, losing to Saint Francis of Mountain View.
“I didn’t know what to expect, but the guys realized we can play and beat anyone. We might not be the biggest team, but we’re a tough team to rattle and we can hang with anybody.”
The Warriors have a couple of tough tests coming up.
They visit two-time CIF-SS Division 3 champion South Pasadena on April 14, and they travel to face Santa Margarita the following night.
“This is the toughest schedule we’ve had,” Van Rensselaer said.
The Warriors’ nonleague schedule has already included matches against Beckman, Capistrano Valley, Trabuco Hills and Laguna Hills. The goal, said Van Rensselaer, is to have the Warriors prepared to make a successful run to a third consecutive CIF-SS title.
Saddleback Valley Christian isn’t the only county team ranked in Division 4. St. Margaret’s (No. 3), Magnolia (No. 6), Kennedy (No. 8), Tustin (No. 9) and Garden Grove (No. 10) are also ranked in the top 10 this week. Only Division 1 has as many county teams ranked in the top 10. …
Huntington Beach will spend part of its spring break in Hawaii competing in the Clash of Titans in Honolulu.
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