By Ernie Stone
Royal’s heart beat strong as the players willed their way to a five-game victory over Valencia in the CIF-Southern Section Division II volleyball quarterfinals Friday night.
“These teams are even, it is apparent the team that makes the least mistakes will win,” said Royal head coach Dean Borth before the game.
While both teams played to a standstill through the first four sets, the desire and belief in Royal carried them over a young and inexperienced
Valencia team, 26-24, 25-18, 23-25, 22-25, 15-11.
Said Valencia coach Mark Knudsen, “We have a completely different team than the boys we had last year. It’s been easier getting to this point due to the lowered expectations this year.”
In the end, the youth of Valencia gave way to Royal’s lineup of all upperclassmen. In a match that lasted more than two hours, Valencia’s impressive yet inconsistent runs were unable to pierce the mentally and physically sound team from the Marmonte League.
“We have been together for a while,” said Royal senior co-captain Trevor Jones. “We expected to be here and meshed well as a team.”
While Royal advances to play Laguna in the semifinals, Valencia will look to build on this year’s playoff run in hopes of a return to glory next year.
The Vikings ended the year at 17-6 while suprising many with a stellar season after graduating eight seniors to NCAA Division I colleges last year.
“A championship is the only measure of success next year,” said Nick Ferry, Valencia’s fiery junior libero. “Our consistency will improve with practice and I just can’t see being happy with anything other than a CIF title.”