There were no easy points.
The Santa Ynez Pirates boys volleyball team won a hard fought Channel League battle against the Dos Pueblos Chargers Thursday night at Santa Ynez High School.
The teams battled for every point before the Pirates won in straight sets, 25-22, 25-21 and 30-28.
A case in point — with Dos Pueblos leading 26-25 in the third set, at the end of a long rally, Santa Ynez’s Andrew Nielson blasted a kill shot directly at Dos Pueblos’ libero Emmet Ehrnstein.
Ehrnstein made a diving dig, sending the ball over the net directly back to Nielson who blasted it right back toward Ehrnstein, but this time just to Ehrnstein’s left and he wasn’t able to come up with another spectacular dig.
“I finally saw my team tonight — my real team,” said Santa Ynez coach Craig Scott. “That’s the potential the boys have showed all year and they got it tonight.”
Early on, it appeared that it might be an easy night for the Pirates, who raced out to a 6-0 first set lead.
But Dos Pueblos kept its composure, eventually tying the set at 8-all.
Santa Ynez went on a 5-0 run, keyed by a Nate Rogers kill, followed by a Grant Lockhart kill and a Siggy Porter block, for a 13-8 lead.
Later in the set, another bazooka shot from Nielson gave Santa Ynez an 18-12 lead but that was the last time all night the Pirates would have a big lead.
Although Santa Ynez stayed ahead, Dos Pueblos kept chipping away and finally caught up at 22-22.
Kills by Lockhart and Nielson then closed out the set.
“We knew who they would be tonight,” said Scott. “We knew what kind of game they played and were prepared for what they usually do and they did it but the boys were prepared for them.”
The teams traded points early in the second set until, tied 12-12, Dos Pueblos sent on a 3-point run, forcing Scott to call a time out.
His Pirates responded, swinging the momentum back their way by scoring five straight points.
At 21-18, two Nielson kills and two Rogers kills finished off the set.
Dos Pueblos righted its ship in the third set, moving in front 11-6.
“I took a time out to tell the team that they can’t score all five points at once. I told them to just chip away at the lead and they did.”
Still on the wrong end of the score, Dos Pueblos blasted a kill shot that Santa Ynez Libero Juan Sanchez tried to track down.
Racing at full speed, Sanchez caught up to the ball but couldn’t save it.
After diving for the ball, Sanchez slid on his side all the way to the padded wall at the north end of the gym.
“That really pumped the team up,” said Scott. “When Juan went sliding into the wall, they got the point but we got the energy.”
Now it was the Pirates turn to chip away at the lead, with the teams basically trading points until, with DP leading 18-15, Santa Ynez scored five straight points to finally take the lead at 20-18.
Leading 25-24, the Chargers missed a chance to close out the set when they served long.
At 29-28, the Pirates’ Rogers blasted a no-doubt winner to end the set and the match.
“This was definitely the most complete game we’ve played all season. Everybody stepped up. Harrison Bradley was great at setting us up, we finally saw the real Nate Rogers tonight — he was outstanding — our middle players Grant and Andrew played some great galls off the block. It was a complete team effort,” said Scott. “I got a haircut today and it’s a good thing. I definitely would have pulled out all my hair tonight if I hadn’t.”
Nielson and Lockhart led the Pirates with 11 kills apiece with Nate Rogers adding nine.