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Warriors win boys volleyball league opener

The Valley Center High School boys volleyball team traveled to Fallbrook High School on March 24 for a match against Fallbrook. The Fallbrook squad prevailed in four games to give the Warriors a 1-0 record in Valley League play along with a 6-7 overall record entering Spring Break.

"That was a big one for them," Fallbrook coach Chip Patterson said of the Warriors winning their league opener.

The league victory broke a 73-match league losing streak for Fallbrook, which had not won in league play since the Warriors were in the Avocado League in 2008. "That's a long time," Patterson said. "That's a major accomplishment, and it's going to be hopefully a different year."

The Warriors' success has occurred despite four players quitting the team two days before Fallbrook's March 9 season opener. Two of those players left for work activity, one was struggling with grades, and one departed due to family matters.

That left the varsity with eight players, although a divided program roster is a step in the right direction for Fallbrook. "This is the first time in a long time we've had a JV team," Patterson said. "Things are really starting to come around."

Patterson chose to leave his less experienced players on the junior varsity squad with the exception of freshman Joseph Portillo, who made the varsity when it consisted of 12 players. Portillo and senior Ford Culallad, who is a transfer student, are Fallbrook's only new players. Fallbrook's other two seniors are Isaac Maxwell and Jake Klingsberg. Matthew Araiza, Angel Mercado, and Justice Patterson are the Warriors' three juniors. Johnny Iniesta is the only sophomore on Fallbrook's varsity.

The March 9 match was at home against El Camino, and the Wildcats took a 25-13, 25-16, 25-11 victory over the Warriors. "This was a difficult match considering that we lost four starting returning players from last year," Chip Patterson said. "I commend my team for regrouping and putting up a fight."

Maxwell led the Warriors with eight kills against El Camino, and his 12 digs and four blocks were also team highs. Mercado had 10 assists and Justice Patterson had three serving aces.

Fallbrook lost a four-game home match March 11 against Escondido Adventist Academy and a three-game match March 16 at Mission Hills.

The first Fallbrook win of 2016 was at home March 17 against Del Lago Academy. The Warriors prevailed in 25-19, 26-24, and 25-20 sets. "We were able to keep our service and passing errors to a minimum," Chip Patterson said. "The greatest improvement was our defensive floor coverage and digs."

Maxwell had 14 kills against the Firebirds and Justice Patterson added 10 kills. Mercado set for 27 assists. "Angel did an outstanding job in selecting his hitters, who were successful in getting multiple kills," Chip Patterson said.

Araiza had five solo blocks while Klingsberg had two solo blocks and five assisted blocks. Maxwell led the team with 15 digs and Iniesta, Klingsberg, and Justice Patterson provided seven digs apiece. Patterson also served for three aces with Culallad, Klingsberg, and Mercado each recording two aces.

Tournament matches are decided when one team wins two games, or sets. Fallbrook opened the March 18-19 Del Lago tournament with a 23-25, 25-15, 15-7 victory over Escondido Charter. The Warriors' other March 18 match was a 25-23, 25-20 loss to Serra.

The first March 19 match for Fallbrook was a 19-25, 25-20, 15-10 win against Del Lago. That was followed by Fallbrook's 25-13, 25-6 triumph over High Tech High Chula Vista.

A 25-14, 25-16 win over Lutheran advanced the Warriors to the tournament final. "That was very impressive," Chip Patterson said.

Serra won the championship with a 25-23, 27-25 victory at Fallbrook's expense. "They beat themselves by making a few mistakes," Patterson said.

Not only did Patterson not call up any junior varsity players for the tournament, but the Warriors played with only seven boys both days. One player was ineligible for disciplinary reasons on one of the tournament days while one player had a family commitment on the other day. "We were always missing a crucial player," Patterson said.

That still allowed for one player to be rested at any given time. "We played in the championship, so that was good," Patterson said.

Fallbrook's March 21 match at Liberty Charter ended as a four-game win for the Lions. Hilltop traveled to Fallbrook on Feb. 23; the Lancers lost the first game but won the next three to take the match.

Fallbrook is in Division III for CIF playoff purposes. El Camino, Hilltop, and Valley Center are in Division II. "We've played a lot of D-II teams and we've beat some," Patterson said.

"We've played differently," Patterson said. "Most of the time it's them beating themselves."

A player or team hitting percentage subtracts errors from kills and divides that amount into the total number of attempts. Fallbrook had a .427 hitting percentage in the 25-16, 18-25, 25-15, 25-18 victory over Valley Center with 55 kills and 14 errors in 96 attempts. The Warriors made only eight serving errors in their 97 serves.

"The team played an outstanding first set and ran into some passing hiccups in the second set," Patterson said. "Once they started communicating again the team took the next two sets with minimal mistakes."

Maxwell had a hitting percentage of .486 against the Jaguars with 20 kills and three errors in 35 attempts. Justice Patterson had 15 kills and four errors in 24 swings for a .458 hitting average. Klingsberg took 18 swings and had a .389 hitting percentage with 10 kills and three errors. Araiza's 11 swings resulted in eight kills and two errors for a .545 percentage.

Iniesta had no errors in his 20 serves and Mercado was errorless in 17 serves. Each had two aces as did Araiza, Maxwell, and Patterson. Araiza had five solo blocks and Klingsberg contributed four solo blocks. Patterson led the team with 26 digs while Iniesta and Maxwell added 18 digs apiece. Mercado had 35 assists.

"If they stay healthy, they stay out of trouble, then the season should be interesting," Chip Patterson said.

 

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