Mater Dei survives five-set battle with LB Poly
It didn't take long for the defending CIF-SS Division 1 boys volleyball champions Mater Dei Monarchs to get welcomed into the 2012 playoffs.
Mater Dei split the first four games against visiting Long Beach Poly, but finally found the right ingredients to escape with the victory, 25-18, 21-25, 25-16, 20-25, 15-11, in a Division 1 first-round game.
The Monarchs will face visit Santa Barbara in the second round Thursday. Santa Barbara defeated Los Alamitos in five games in their first-round match Tuesday.
Mater Dei (19-5) jumped to a 5-1 lead in the fifth game, only to have Long Beach Poly rally to take a 7-6 lead. Mater Dei then took control with a four-point run, ending with a kill from Michael Such.
"We wanted to be the more aggressive team coming out (in game five)," Mater Dei junior outside hitter Tucker Pikula said. "The aggressive team wins the fifth game, most of the time, unless they're too aggressive.
"We wanted to come out, swing harder than them and pick up more ball than them."
Mater Dei took a timeout with an 11-10 lead. After the break, Pikula connected for a kill and two hitting errors gave Mater Dei a 14-10.
Pikula would later end the match with one of his team-leading 19 kills.
John Zappia and Such had 13 apiece. Matt Lopez added eight. Setter Grady Zant had 48 assists.
The teams met March 16 at Mater Dei with visiting Long Beach Poly winning in five games.
The Jackrabbits sent this match into a deciding fifth game thanks to the play of Pele Ili and Johnny Em. Em had six of his game-high 28 kills in the fourth game. Illi had five of his 12.
"Our block was getting sloppy and undisciplined," Mater Dei coach Adam Cutrell said. "We were reaching ... they were doing a job of slicing and dicing us and making us work hard for points.
"Once we settled down blocking and serving, it seemed to propel us through and then let them make the errors."
Also in Division 1:
Newport Harbor 3, Ventura 0: Clay Carr led the host Sailors (22-9) with 12 kills in the 27-25, 25-14, 25-16 victory. The Sailors will face Dana Hills in the second round.
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