The Samohi men’s volleyball varsity Vikings went in underdogs and came out victors against the Costa Mesa High School Mustangs in first round CIF playoff action last Friday.
Costa Mesa was the higher seed and the Vikings trekked to Orange County for the match. It was touch and go early in the first game as both teams dueled to leads until the Vikings pulled ahead to win 25-18. The Vikings won game two 25-21 and game three 25-19 to secure Samohi’s first volleyball playoff win in many years.
While underclassmen have been a cornerstone of the team’s success much of the season, an ankle injury to junior starter Michael Campbell in the penultimate regular season match against Beverly Hills High forced head coach Liane Sato to adjust the lineup. Coach Sato turned to the veteran seniors and they produced. Jason Silver played a fantastic match, his left handed cross court hitting from outside seemed to keep Costa Mesa off balance. Ian Quick was hitting hard and accurate and recorded a number of kills. Front row blocker/hitter Zachary Van Pelt was crucial to the Vikings’ domination of net play all match long. (When not slamming volleyballs Van Pelt plays concert tuba and will continue his music studies as a freshman at UCLA this fall.)
It was, of course a team victory. Team anchors Neil Cline and setter Fred McLafferty, both juniors, played a strong match joined by hitter Ari Feldman and passers Bronson Oliveira and Dmitri Glickman. The Vikings simply out-hustled the Mustangs and played with far fewer errors to win a second round CIF playoff berth.“The team has worked hard all season long and tonight’s victory is their reward. Every varsity player has contributed and each player should be proud,” notes Coach Sato. A former Olympian, Sato coaches both the men’s and women’s Samohi volleyball squads and this is her third CIF playoff trip in a row the men in ’04 and ’05, and the ’04 women’s team last fall.