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Aliso Niguel advances easily into second round
ALISO VIEJO – The Aliso Niguel boys volleyball team made quick work of its CIF-Southern Section first-round playoff opponent Tuesday night.
Paced by junior Jack Schubert and senior JJ Jelnick, the No. 5-seeded Wolverines rolled past West Ranch of Valencia, 25-10, 25-16, 25-12, in less than an hour in a Division 2 match at Aliso Niguel High.
The victory advances the Wolverines to the second round, where it will face La Canada on Thursday at a site and time to be determined. La Canada advanced by defeating El Modena, 11-25, 25-23, 25-17, 25-18, on Tuesday.
Schubert, a 6-2 outside hitter, scored 14 points (12 kills, 2 aces) while Jelnick added 12 (10 kills, 2 aces). Senior setter Brody Earnest spread the offense around as he distributed 26 assists among seven different hitters.
“We executed tonight,” said Jelnick, “especially our serve-return. When our serve-return is on, we’re dangerous.”
West Ranch (22-10) discovered that first hand as it had no answer for Aliso Niguel’s attack.
“(Aliso Niguel) did exactly what we thought they would do, we just didn’t execute,” said Wildcats coach Nathan Sparks.
West Ranch, which was ranked in Division 2 through most of the season, was without starting setter Ethan Marshall, who fell ill hours before the match.
“He would’ve made a huge difference,” said Sparks. “Not having him threw us off a little bit. (Tonight’s game) made us realize how important he is.”
Sophomore Peter Patag, who had never started at setter in a varsity match this season, filled in admirably, but the Wildcats’ offense was notably out of synch. Part of that was due to Aliso Niguel’s stellar serving attack, which produced 10 aces, four by Earnest and three by senior Spencer Kelly.
“Our serving has really improved throughout the season. We’re making much fewer errors,” said Wolverines coach Casey Quiggle.
Aliso Niguel, this year’s Sea View League champion, exerted its dominance early as it raced to leads of 6-1, 14-4 and 22-9 before putting Game 1 away on a Christian Hickey kill down the line.
West Ranch put up more of a challenge in Game 2, knotting the score at 10-10 on a shared block by Ozzie Armadi and Nicholas Christy. But the Wolverines (25-5) rolled off 15 of the next 21 points, the last on a Hickey kill up the middle.
Game 3 was much of the same. Tied, 5-5, the Wolverines rolled off 20 of the match’s final 27 points.
“We’re taking one match at a time,” said Quiggle. “We set a goal at the beginning of the season to win league outright. We accomplished that, but we want to make a run at (a) CIF (championship).”
Amadi and Braden Drake each had six kills to pace the Wildcats, while Amadi and Patag led them in digs with seven each.