Boys Volleyball: Sacred Heart Cathedral takes St. Francis to the limit, but falls short

By Jeremy Balan

St. Francis blockers Dash Leeds (left) and Chris Markuson rise up to contest a drive from Sacred Heart Cathedral hitter Gabriel Gonzalez on Tuesday at Sacred Heart Cathedral. (Photo by Devin Chen)

Despite a match-high 18 kills from junior outside hitter Matthew Tinio, Sacred Heart Cathedral could not hold of St. Francis of Mountain View in a 3-2 loss (19-25, 25-20, 25-20, 22-25, 15-10) in West Catholic Athletic League play on Tuesday at Sacred Heart Cathedral.

In the fifth and deciding game, a Tinio kill tied the score up at 9-9, but four consecutive Irish unforced errors allowed St. Francis (8-3, 3-0) to finish the game on a 5-1 run.

“When we opened up [WCAL play against Serra] we just played horribly, but the fact that they bounced back and played really well [against St. Francis] and took them to five games, is something that I’m actually really proud of them for,” said Sacred Heart Head Coach Nga Tran.

Tinio was Sacred Heart’s primary offensive threat throughout the match, adding four blocks and 10 digs to his match-high kills total.

“The burden of having the team on his back is something he’s getting used to,” Tran said. “He wants that role. There’s a fighting spirit in him.”

The Irish (7-5, 0-2) claimed the first game 25-19, capitalizing on multiple Lancers unforced errors, but St. Francis battled back to win the next two games.

Midway through the second game, St. Francis Head Coach Mike Rubin subbed in 6-foot-6-inch sophomore setter James Shaw, who became a force on the Lancers block and distributed the ball well to St. Francis hitters.

“We changed a few players around,” Rubin said. “We had an injury that we were trying to rest, but after we got down [in the second game] we decided we were going to switch in [Rubin] and that was the difference.”

Sacred Heart senior outside hitter Jeff Dea had 13 kills in the match, but his production slowed as the match progressed.

Sacred Heart Cathedral outside hitter Jeff Dea rises up for a strike constested by St. Francis blockers. (Photo by AJ Canaria)

“He’s spotty,” Tran said. “I need consistency from him. As soon as he gets timid, his game gets tight.”

Junior outside hitter Chris Markuson led the Lancers with 12 kills.

Even with the loss, Tran is encouraged heading into the heart of a tough WCAL schedule.

“For them to come out like this is really good,” Tran said. “I’m not saying I’m satisfied with the fact that we didn’t win, but I’m satisfied with the performance and the fact that we were competitive the whole time. They just need to figure out how to close the games out.”

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