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Vaquero block is difference in 3-2 win over Pierce

Jaiden Pina, left, and To'o To'o combine for one of SBCC's season-high 18 blocks. (Photo by Wade the Giant)
Jaiden Pina, left, and To'o To'o combine for one of SBCC's season-high 18 blocks. (Photo by Wade the Giant)

SBCC didn't play its best volleyball on Wednesday night but the Vaqueros did have a season-high 18 team blocks in a 3-2 victory over L.A. Pierce at the Sports Pavilion. The scores were 24-26, 25-22, 25-20, 25-27, 15-10.

Kyle Smiley had two straight aces in the fifth set and then sophomore captain To'o To'o took over in the middle with back-to-back blocks and a kill that made it 11-7. Taylor McCluskey ended the 2-hour, 12-minute match with a kill down the middle.

"We weren't playing efficient in the first few sets and it all came together in the last set," said To'o, a 6-3 middle blocker from San Lorenzo. "I was angry because we should have been out of here a lot faster. We were the ones making the mistakes. We got the W and that's all that matters."

The Vaqueros improved to 10-5 overall and 5-3 in the WSC. SBCC is 3-1 in five-set matches this year. Pierce fell to 5-9 and 2-6.

McCluskey and Shaft Wesley had nine kills apiece, Jaiden Pina and Robert Gulvin both produced eight and Sean Reynaert and To'o had seven each. To'o and Gulvin led in blocks with seven apiece with McCluskey and Reynaert each adding five.

The Vaqueros also had a season-high 71 digs, led by Smiley (18) and Casey Alper (17).

"You could call this a gritty win, considering how bad we were playing," said coach Matt Jones. "We steadied out enough in that fifth set. We got those two aces from Kyle and then To'o stepped up for us. Our defense was pretty good and kept us in the match."

There were 14 ties and seven lead changes in the opening set, which the Vaqueros led 22-20. They couldn't convert set point at 24-23, however, and got outscored 6-2 to end the set, capped by an ace by Anthony Stepanov.

The Vaqueros trailed 18-14 in set No. 2, then closed with an 11-4 thanks to a flurry of Brahma errors. To'o got a kill off the block and Wesley did the same to end 25-22 win. SBCC jumped ahead 10-3 and 19-12 in the third set. Pierce rallied within three at 19-16 before Reynaert pounded a back-set from Keaton Arutian and Wesley drilled a kill to boost the lead to five.

Santa Barbara led 17-12 in the fourth set before Pierce went on a 9-2 run to take the lead at 21-19. The Vaqueros had match point at 24-23 but Pierce tied it on a kill by Joe Arechiga. A minute later, they capped the 27-25 win with a block.

The Vaqueros have a bye on Friday, then travel to L.A. Trade Tech on Wednesday.