After a winless 2015, the 2016 Cabrillo boys volleyball squad earned the program's first league win. The Conquistadores' Los Padres League ledger was 1-11.
The Conquistadores want to make the playoffs this year, and they are off to a good start in their quest for a 2018 postseason.
Cabrillo evaded three Santa Maria set points in the third set and eventually completed a 3-0 sweep of the Saints at Santa Maria's Wilson Gym Wednesday night in the Los Padres League opener for both teams. Set scores were 25-18, 25-10, 27-25.
The Conquistadores are 3-1, 1-0. The Saints are 0-3, 0-1.
Santa Maria led most of set three, but the Saints couldn't convert on any of their three set points. On the first match point the Conquistadores had, Brenton Staunton took care of a Santa Maria over-pass, smacking the ball into the open court on the Saints' side for the last point of the match.
Joey Brown, with his hitting, blocking and defense, gave the Conquistadores a solid all-around match Wednesday night. The senior, a second-year varsity player, said his team is well ahead of where it was at this point last year.
"It's been our goal since the season started to make it into the playoffs," said Brown.
"We have better hitters this year, better servers, better passing from the back row."
That quality passing, along with the communication, went away from the Conqs for a time late in the third set Wednesday, but they got it back and put away the match.
"We were able to fix things," and save the third set and ultimately salt the match away Brown said.
The Conquistadores aren't particularly tall, but Curtis Rogers gave them some strong play at the net Wednesday night. Sean Wood's hitting for the Conquistadores also plagued the Saints.
Isaya Curiel gave the Saints some solid hitting, and he brought the home team to its first set point with an ace that made it 24-22 in the third.
Two Santa Maria errors wiped out two set points and knotted the set at 24-all. A Cabrillo error gave the Saints another set point, but Brown tied the set again, at 25-all, with a successful block.
With Jericho Guron serving for Cabrillo, Chris Campos smacked a put-away to give the Conqs their first match point. A Santa Maria pass on Guron's next serve went over the net, and Staunton's smash landed untouched for the last point.
Santa Maria rolled mainly behind strong defense from libero Chuy Olivera in the back row, some solid shot-making by Curiel and strong middle row defense from Geraldo Fabela.
That, and some Cabrillo errors, helped the Saints stay in contention most of the first set. However, Cabrillo stayed ahead in the set after Brown, with an ace to start, snapped a 5-5 tie with a four-point service run.
Santa Maria played a loose second set and fell out of contention in that one on an eight-point Wood service run that made it 9-1.
Two Fabela kills highlighted a four-point Clemente Ramos service run in the third set that brought the Saints from an 8-6 deficit to a 10-8 lead.
Santa Maria actually went ahead 20-16 late in the set but the Conquistadores made most of the plays down the stretch, and they closed the match out.
Like Brown, Cabrillo assistant coach Paul Graves sounded confident about the Conqs' chances to make it to the playoffs this year. Graves was filling in as Cabrillo head coach Wednesday night for Aaron Batula. Graves said Batula is on vacation.
"These boys have had a goal since the start of the year to make the playoffs, and they are far ahead of where they were at this point last year," said Graves, who was also a Cabrillo assistant coach for Batula last season.
Cabrillo will play at Nipomo at 5 p.m. next Tuesday night in a league match. Santa Maria will play at Righetti at 5:30 p.m. next Wednesday night as part of the Central Coast Tournament.
San Marcos 12, Arroyo Grande 6
The Royals tagged the Eagles (3-1) with a non-league loss, Arroyo Grande's first defeat this year.
Austin Bricker and Dylan Black, Arroyo Grande's No. 1 doubles team, gave the Eagles half their points. They swept their sets 6-4, 6-2, 6-1.
Arroyo Grande defeated Mission Prep 17-1 Tuesday to run its PAC 8 League record to 2-0.