Following their loss to the top team in the state, the Cubs faced off against the Santa Barbara Dons on their home court. The Dons boasted a 17-6 record overall compared to the 21-5 record of the Cubs prior to the match. During the regular season, each team beat the other once; now, they compete for a third team in hopes of a regional championship.
6’4” Senior Will Campbell
5’10” Senior Nico Posivak
6’3” Junior Aidan Peters
6’4” Junior Luke Turner
6’3” Junior Henry Wedbush
6’4” Senior Liam Watson
The Dons had the first serve of the game, one easily returned by the Cubs with a Turner outside spike to score. Watson disturbs a hit enough for the Cubs to dig a hit, allowing Turner to hit from the outside again. Watson then spikes an errant dig to score the third point for the home side. The Cubs are unable to block the outside hit for the Dons, giving up a point, but beat the outside blockers for a Campbell score. The Dons find the outside again for another point before Peters goes up for a hit on the outside for another hit for points. The Dons respond with a hit from the opposite side this time and trail 5-3 before the Cubs spike one into the net. Proving they won’t give up easily, the Cubs find Peters for an outside hit that bounces off the libero’s chest for a point. The Dons then score an outside hit of their own before Wedbush catches the blockers off guard with a slam. The Cubs get called for a double on the next play, however, maintaining the score at a one-point Cub lead. The Cubs then find Turner on the outside for a that the libero simply can’t get under. Wedbush continues the momentum with a block that the Dons can’t get back up. The Dons don’t stay down for long, though, as they spike past two blockers for a point. Two blockers isn’t enough to block Turner either as he slams one from the outside for an exhilarating score. The Dons follow the play up with a spike that beats two blockers once again before the Cubs run a similar play to the last for Campbell this time. The Cubs lose an exciting rally but find Peters on the next play to make up for the lost points. Sending their serve out of bounds, the Cubs give away free points before Peters’ deceptive set over the net lands between two Santa Barbara players. Once again, the Cubs send their serve past then end line, but the Dons send their serve into the net to leave the score at 14-11 in favor of the Cubs. The Cub blockers work extra hard on the next play to force the Don hitter into a spike that sideouts, forcing the Don head coach to ask for a timeout. With the score at 15-11 in favor of the home side, the Dons send a spike out the side after the timeout to extend the Cub advantage. The Dons bounce back with a hit that skims the Cub blockers before scoring but send their next hit past the end line. In atonement, the Dons beat the Cub blockers, who fell asleep, for an easy spike from the middle. Turner wins the Cubs points two times on the bounce by absolutely dominating the blockers on the opposite side. The scoreboard reading 19-13 Cubs, the Dons call their second timeout of the set in the hopes of stealing the momentum away from the home side. Out of the short intermission, the Cubs again get beat badly in the middle before Campbell deftly catches the Dons off guard with a tip. The Cubs make several heads-up plays before the rally ends with a hit from Watson in the middle. Unable to return the ball, the Cubs surrender the point and the serve before finding Campbell flying in for a truly outstanding middle hit. Peters then catches the Dons on a tip to extend the lead to 23-15 in favor of the boys in blue. Unfortunately, the Cubs send their serve into the net; however, Mortimer atones for the lost opportunity with a hard hit from the middle that the Dons can’t respond to. The set ends with Campbell serving one with serious speed, exposing the Dons inability to return exquisite service.
The Cubs that started the first set also start the second as they look to continue their hot streak. Turner gets the first points of the set when he spikes one past two blockers for a Cub score. The Dons manage to block the next two, however, and take the early lead. The Don libero looks like he’s come to play with miraculous saves before Campbell spikes one from the outside to score. The Dons are unable to communicate well, giving up free points, before finding the opposite side for an emphatic hit. The Dons follow it up with what looked like a block before the ref calls for a replay. Peters gets blocked on the first hit attempt before but is able to dig the ball on his way back down before hitting one on the opposite side for an emotional point. With the score even at 5, the Cubs send their serve out of bounds before getting blocked in the middle by a wall of three Dons. Mortimer catches the opposition napping on the next play and spikes one down the middle before Campbell pulls out the same serve that he used to end the first set, notching an ace again. Peters then gets a block on the opposite side to put the Cubs up 8-6, instigating a timeout call from the Dons head coach. Because Campbell’s serve put the Dons out of sorts, Peters is able to notch another kill. Campbell serves a teardrop, leading the Dons to attack from the back row. He continues the magic with a serve that had speed for another ace. The run ends when a serve lands out of bounds. Wedbush retorts to the loss of a point with a slam to score, keeping the Dons on their toes as the Cub points seem to be coming from everywhere. Santa Barbara beats two blockers in the middle but continue to get dominated by the Cub hitters when Campbell notches an outside kill. The Dons catch the Cubs with a tip but are called for a lift on the next play, leaving the score at 15-9. Turner then spikes one uncontested on the opposite side for another easy point. The Cub blockers rise late to give up a point from the middle before Campbell beats two blockers for an outside spike. Unable to return the ball two times in a row, the Dons are in a serious hole down 18-10. The Dons bounce the ball off the hands of a Cub blocker to finally get a point back. The Cubs then send a hit out of bounds before the Dons are called for a double. Peters again catches the Dons with a tip to put the Cubs in a commanding 20-12 position. The Cubs send the serve into the net but make up for it by beating two blockers with a Campbell hit from the outside. Campbell goes back into the serving position and gets another ace before the Cubs are unable to return a hit from the outside. Peters rises on the opposite side to dominate the Don blockers for his fifth kill of the set. The Dons get away with a lift and score on a tip. The penultimate point of the set is scored by Wedbush who does an slam over his head before the Dons beat the middle blockers for a point. The set ends with the Dons sending their serve out of bounds.
The starting six again take the floor for the third set, pursuing a sweep and a chance for revenge against Newport Harbor. The Cubs start the set the same way they started the game, finding Turner on the opposite side for a hit that bounces off the chest of the libero to score. The Cubs are bailed out by an excellent dig from Posivak to find Turner on the opposite side again for a hit that scores. Wedbush gets himself two aces before the Cubs fail to block on the opposite side and give up a point. The Cubs send their next hit out of bounds but find Campbell for the next one, scoring from an opposite side hit. The Cubs keep one alive by kicking the ball but lose the point off a middle hit. The Dons record an ace before blocking an opposite side kill attempt for a tie game. Peters atones for the lost point by spiking another from the opposite side for a point. The Dons give up a point when they touch the net before Peters records yet another kill from the opposite side, beating two blockers. The Cubs give up a hit with a Don hit from the opposite side but find Mortimer for a statement point from a middle hit. Following the hit, the Cubs record another ace off Campbell’s serving, prompting a timeout from the away team with the score 10-6 in favor of the home team. The Dons lose a lengthy rally after the break when they pass under the net. Peters continues to put on a show by beating the opposite blocker once more for an easy point. The Cub block lands out of bounds, giving the Dons a point, but Mortimer beats two middle blockers for a point of his own. Turner does the same on the opposite side before the Cubs give up a hit from the outside to end the run. The Dons send their serve into the net before the Cubs let a middle hitter beat them for points. The team gets beat from the middle again, leaving the score at 15-10 Cubs, before the Dons send their serve sailing out of bounds. A Turner block puts the Cubs up seven when Wedbush marks an ace with a serve that just touches the side line. Following the ace, Campbell records an outside kill, forcing the Dons into a timeout with the scoreboard reading 19-10 in favor of the home side. Out of the timeout, the Cubs send their serve into the net but find Watson in the middle for a killer hit. Campbell then comes up with a monster block before the Dons make a boneheaded mistake of touching the net. Peters gets another kill when the Dons send an easy one ove. The Cubs end the game with Watson recording the final hit in a dominant Cub performance.
by Lucas Yen