Samohi’s men’s volleyball team cruised north in a chartered Big Blue Bus last Wednesday to face Oxnard High School in the CIF Division III Championship semi-finals, only to be bested three games to one, ending the Vikings’ remarkable playoff run one game short of the championship match. Oxnard subsequently lost to Orange Lutheran, which captured the CIF Division III championship last Saturday.
Finishing second in the Ocean League and entering the 32 team playoffs unranked, Samohi pulled off three consecutive playoff upsets, each a decisive victory, for the school’s best post season men’s volleyball campaign in eight years. Oxnard, enjoying home “port” advantage, was two time defending CIF champion, and the Yellow Jackets started six seniors against the far younger Vikings. Oxnard won the first game 25-21. But the Vikings had just begun to fight. They regrouped and took the second game 25-21, serving notice that Samohi’s advance to the semi-finals was no fluke. Oxnard won game three 25-19. In the tense fourth and deciding game, the Vikings battled to a 24-23 lead and were on the cusp of forcing a fifth tie-breaker game, only to lose game four and match in overtime points 24-26.
It was an exciting, if disappointing finish for the Samohi playing careers of graduating seniors Ian Quick, Jason Silver and Zachary Van Pelt, each of whom was crucial to Samohi’s post season success. For the younger members of the team, the playoff run was a real character builder as the Vikings now set their sights on the 2006 campaign. They have served notice, “don’t tread on Samohi.”
“Job well done,” said head coach Liane Sato as she reflected upon the 2005 playoffs. “Our team rose to the occasion.”
The future is bright for the Viking men’s volleyball. Ocean League coaches voted six Samohi players all-league first or second team and five of the six will be returning next year including League MVP Fred McLafferty, first team co-players Neil Cline and Michael Campbell, and second team players Bronson Oliveira and Ari Feldman. Senior Ian Quick was also named to the all-league second team.