Scots start run at CIF playoffs B1
CALEXICO — On Friday afternoon, while some Imperial Valley high school sports fans and parents might have regretted watching outdoors sports in the Valley heat, a few were enjoying cool air conditioning while watching the Vincent Memorial and Calexico Mission School boys’ volleyball teams do battle here.
Scots fans were treated to a swift and decisive three straight game win, 25-7, 25-9, 25-9 to improve to 3-1 in Citrus League action and 6-5 overall.
The Scots have shown steady improvement over the past three seasons under veteran girls volleyball and tennis coach Gerardo Cazares.
“The first year we didn’t have many matches because they weren’t sure who would coach,” Cazares said. “My second year we had a few more matches and two tournaments and this season we went to the Sweetwater Tournament and finished second in the Bronze division.”
Lutheran, which graduated its entire team from last year when they went 25-7 and won the CIF-San Diego Section Division V championship, struggled against a Vincent team that features seven seniors at the tournament this year.
“I’ve seen a lot of improvement in myself and in the team over the last four years,” said senior Andres Gallego who has played four seasons for the Scots, the past three as their setter.
“I like the setter position because you can take control of the offense,” said Gallego who was at one time a guard on the Scots boys basketball team. “And I like the feeling when I set it well and the hitter gets a kill.”
In game three of the match, Alejandro Bryan served 15 straight points, something Bryan, in his second year of volleyball, takes seriously.
“Since it’s my second year I don’t have the power or speed of the other players but my serves are consistent,” said Bryan who had 21 for the match. “I see my job as getting the ball in play and my teammates know this and are ready for the return.”
Throughout the match, Vincent had a dominating presence at the net with another senior, 6-foot-6 middle blocker Esteban Roberts.
Roberts hit a growth-spurt after his freshman year and it took some time for him to come to grips with his body and using it for volleyball.
“I’m blocking better this year in part because I am stronger than last season,” Roberts said. “But I’m also blocking smarter because I try to recognize the patterns of the hitters to anticipate where to block and I fix my mistakes.”
Helping Roberts fix things are his father, James, who played club volleyball and former teammate Francisco Gallego.
“My father comes when he can and after the matches we discuss the games and he tells me what I’m doing and I also get help from Francisco,” Roberts said.
Last year, the Scots made their second appearance in the CIF playoffs and the first under Cazares and they are hungry to get back this season.
“Winning CIF is always a goal and we’re looking for a home match again,” Gallego said.
Roberts wants to return to the playoffs to atone for last year.
“I was sick last year so I played anyway but I didn’t play well,” Roberts said. “This year I’m looking forward to playing and helping my team.”
The concept of ‘team’ is very strong among the Scots who refer to fellow players as friends while Cazares acknowledges a lack of male players coming into Vincent from feeder schools where the game isn’t played.
“I started with a core of five and they recruited their friends and this year we got some underclassman,” Cazares said. “The team has a family-oriented feel because the players help recruit and I’m trying to get current and future students to see our games and get interested.”
A Vincent Memorial High player delivers a serve during a home game Friday afternoon.