Recap: West Coast Challenge, Day 2

The boys kicked off Day 2 with a win against Poway. Stunningly, all six of our servers did not make a single error, leaving our service in percentage at 100 for the first time in the history of Parker volleyball and quite possibly boys’ volleyball. It was a stat for the history books. Jackson DeWitt had 6 digs and passed a 2.36. Mark Tankersley tooled off 4 kills. Billy Harrington denied the Titans with 2 big blocks, one of them coming after 2 block touches in one rally, because the third time is truly the charm. Bijan Sagart had 6 kills and claimed dig leader with 11. Nick Gustafson rattled off 3 aces while nailing each of his 14 serves. Not bad for our jump server. He added 2 blocks, and put away 10 kills. Adam Nussbaum sent over 2 kills, set out 22 assists, and had 6 digs. Adam’s words initiated an excellent comeback in Game 2 that sealed the win for the Lancers: “This is fun. I’m enjoying myself.” That vote of confidence and poise inspired the team; they closed the gap and won 25-20.

After taking down the Titans, it was time to again defeat the Dons of Cathedral. Jackson had a 91.7 in percentage at the service line, passed an excellent 2.67, and picked up 6 digs. Mark had 4 aces within the 11 serves he hit. Ben Sheres had 2 kills and 2 blocks. The middle kill tie is now the middle block tie, as Billy Harrington had 2 of his own. His 4 kills came with a 600 hitting average. Bijan had an ace, passed a 2.43, and got 5 digs. Adam extended his no service error streak to this match. He got another kill, 4 digs, and sent out 19 assists. Nick threw it back to our first match against Cathedral with a beautiful block that was near identical to the one he had a few weeks ago, minus the yellow card. Nick was also the senior for this match’s moment of inspiration.  

It was late in Game 2, and the boys had secured a comfortable lead. They were on the cusp of victory. A set went back to Nick, sure to be another kill, when it happened. The ball went wide, and in his effort to save the play, Nick landed on part of the ridiculously placed ref stand, and took some time before he got back up. The next few moments were a mix of concern, fear, and frustration, but Nick, because he’s Nick, stood up, flexed his ankle, and said he was ok (he rolled his ankle, but we all know Nick would try to play if he were dying, so, relatively ok). The team heaved a collective sigh of relief, and after a few points, Nick was back in the match, finishing with 11 kills, a 588 average, and 4 digs. We are proud of the boys for securing the win, and of Nick for his grit.

This win put the Lancers in the quarterfinals, where they faced the Mustangs of Otay Ranch. Mark remained a consistent option, scoring 4 kills for a 364 average. He had a solo block and 2 digs. Jackson had another solid defensive match, passing a 2.25 and picking up 4 digs. He also contributed to the offense with 5 assists. Andreas Cardenas-Marouf did not miss any of his serves, and also had 4 digs. We can only assume he took Bijan’s advice and “played like [he was] playing wall ball,” which is the only one-on-one game in which Andreas remains undefeated. Billy had 2 kills and tied Ben with 2 blocks. We now have two matches of evidence to confirm that Billy’s blocks come in 3s. He again had another 3-touch rally, finishing with an excellent solo block. 

Nick played like he hadn’t rolled his ankle like fifteen minutes ago, putting away 10 kills for a 562 average, passing a 2.62, and picking up a dig. Adam was our other main server with no errors. He narrowly missed the double double, logging 22 assists and 9 digs. Bijan passed a 2.62 and also just missed the double double, with 10 kills on a 529 average and 8 digs. Additionally, Bijan brought “let’s get this bread” to the volleyball jargon with 2 nice blocks, though he did admit he could have used a little more pumpernickel. This match was further proof of the boys’ composure, maturity, and strong effort under pressure. Not bad for, as was said across the net, a bunch of “[wussy] rich kids.”

The Lancers’ next challenge was the semifinals against a talented Westview team. The boys triumphed in three, adding a little intrigue to the day. Jackson had another nice serving run with a 93.3 in percentage, and led in digs with 11. The big Westview block was no match for Mark Tankersley’s tooling abilities. He had 3 kills and 5 digs. Billy brought his net game, sealing off 4 blocks. Adam’s no service errors streak remained intact, and he added 2 kills and 31 assists to the mix. Nick had 14 kills, passed a 2.69, got 4 digs, and took over hosting of the block party with 5. Bijan’s 11 kills came with a 300 average, many of them tagging Westview defenders, and quite a few of them followed by some Nick Gustafson hype (boom!). Bijan doesn’t just tag them though, he flags them, shown in his 6 digs. 

It all came down to the finals against number-one-ranked Torrey Pines, who dealt the Lancers their first loss of the tournament. Mark had an ace and no service errors. Ben led in blocks with 3. Can I get a ‘here we go guys?’ (Ben Sheres, Most Matches). Nick also made each of his serves, and had 3 blocks, along with 3 digs and 11 kills. Bijan put up 6 kills and 6 digs. Adam had 2 blocks, 19 assists, and 4 digs. We are proud of the boys for giving the Falcons a good fight at the end of a long day. And as always, we appreciate that through illness and injury, our boys’ support for each other never falters.

Ultimately, the Lancers finished second out of 32 teams in one of the most competitive West Coast Challenges to date. They got through several difficult opponents, only dropping 3 sets in the entire tournament. Nick and Bijan were named to the All-Tournament team. We congratulate them, and the team for a successful tournament.

Thank you to the Thoenes for securing our usual spot. Thank you to everyone who drove out to watch us through the morning, afternoon, and early evening. Thank you to the boys and parents for their kindness and understanding regarding Sam’s medical difficulties, with a special thank you to the boys for only laughing at her voice one time. Finally, thank you to whichever Torrey Pines player stole her Purell. Look out for recaps on the matches against UC and Cathedral. The boys will travel to Las Vegas this weekend to start their break off right with a two-day volleyball tournament, and will have the rest of the week off. Thanks for reading, go Parker! 

by Sam Deddeh