St. Margaret's sweeps its way into quarterfinals


YUCAIPA – As good as the St. Margaret’s boys volleyball team is, Yucaipa still got one opportunity to make some noise Thursday night.

The chance, unfortunately for the Thunderbirds, was gone almost as quick as it arrived.

Third-seeded St. Margaret’s swept host Yucaipa out of the playoffs, cruising to a 25-15, 25-16, 25-9 victory in a CIF-Southern Section Division 4 second-round match.

Matt Nicholas had nine kills and David Chou added eight for the Tartans, who advanced to face Garden Grove in Saturday’s quarterfinals.

“We made more mistakes than them,” Thunderbirds coach Clint Knipscheer said, “and they’re a phenomenally skilled team.”

Unforced errors plagued Yucaipa throughout the match, but the T-Birds (13-5) put a stretch together in the second set in which they got to within 20-15 of the Tartans (18-6).

It might’ve been closer, and it might’ve been a springboard to something bigger, but Yucaipa also had service errors on consecutive serves and three in four serves during the run.

St. Margaret’s then scored five of the next six points to close out the set. Yucaipa never challenged in set No.3.

“I think they did more things to make themselves better than we were,” Knipscheer said of St. Margaret’s. “But we could have cut down on mistakes to give ourselves a better opportunity.”

Sean Stange led the T-Birds with seven digs and five kills. Yucaipa had only one run of more than two points.

“We sided out really well,” St. Margaret’s coach Jeremy Dailey said. “That’s something we work on every day. No matter what the other team is doing, if we can get the ball back, I like our odds, and yeah, we did not let them go on a long run.”

Yucaipa ended a challenging year in which Redlands overtook it in the Citrus Belt League, but Knipscheer was pleased with what he got from his team, including victories early over Norco and Hemet, and a squad that built a reputation on digging and defense.

“They’re great men,” he said. “They’ve worked extremely hard. They’ve done everything I’ve asked of them. They’ve been there every morning when we had practice at 6 in the morning.

“All the things we’ve done, and then to play in a tough match like they were, they never bickered. They played as a team and battled for each other.”

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