Scots start run at CIF play­offs B1

Imperial Valley Press - - FRONT PAGE - BY TOM RONCO

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.”

KA­RINA LOPEZ PHOTO

A Vin­cent Me­mo­rial High player de­liv­ers a serve dur­ing a home game Fri­day af­ter­noon.

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