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Vaqueros top Moorpark 3-1 for first WSC win

Jackson Wopat moved to middle blocker and recorded six kills, five blocks and a season-high .500 hitting percentage. (Photo by Ken Sciallo / Sevilla Photography)
Jackson Wopat moved to middle blocker and recorded six kills, five blocks and a season-high .500 hitting percentage. (Photo by Ken Sciallo / Sevilla Photography)

Taylor McCluskey pounded a season-high 22 kills and dug 10 balls on Wednesday night to lead SBCC to a 3-1 men's volleyball win over Moorpark in a WSC match at the Sports Pavilion. The scores were 25-23, 21-25, 25-18, 25-21.

It was the first WSC win for the Vaqueros (6-4, 1-2) and the first WSC loss for the Raiders (3-7, 2-1).

McCluskey hit .364 and middle blocker Robert Gulvin added 10 kills, five blocks and a .381 hitting percentage. Jackson Wopat, who moved from the outside to middle blocker in a new lineup, had six kills, five blocks and a season-best .500 hitting percentage.

Tahiarii Caldwell made his first start at outside hitter and had a season-high 11 digs.

"We ran a new lineup tonight and it took us a set to get into the flow of things," said coach Matt Jones. "Our defensive effort was better. We're going to have to find our rhythm on offense. Serving is still an issue, the guys are going to give me a heart attack."

SBCC hit .273 for the match, highlighted by a .536 percentage in the third set with 16 kills and just one error. The Vaqueros committed 13 service errors with four aces. Moorpark struggled as well with 15 errors and two aces.

Kyle Smiley had 43 assists, four kills with an .800 hitting percentage, six digs and three aces, including back-to-back service winners in the fourth set that boosted the lead to 9-3.

Owen Yoshimoto, who played for the Vaqueros two years ago, led Moorpark with 16 kills.

SBCC trailed by 2-3 points for most of the first set, then finished on a 7-2 run, capped by a powerful McCluskey kill through the block that sealed the 25-23 win.

There were nine ties in the second set, then the visitors went on a 9-6 run to take an 18-15 lead. The Vaqueros could get no closer than two points the rest of the way and Yoshimoto ended it with a kill down the line.

The Vaqueros dominated the second half of the third set, breaking a 13-all tie with a 9-3 run that led to a 22-16 lead on a backrow kill by McCluskey. A dump by Smiley gave the Vaqueros the 24th point and McCluskey capped the 25-18 win with a smash down the middle.

"Tahi played well, we switched Taylor to left back and he played great and we have Haward (Gomes) on the opposite now, that's added to our defense," said Jones. "Matt Bohorquez had a nice service run in the fourth set."

The Vaqueros jumped out to leads of 4-0, 9-3, 13-7 and 18-13 in the fourth set. They got to match point, 24-19, on a roof block by Gulvin and a kill from the 10-foot line by McCluskey. The Raiders cut it to three at 24-21 before ending the match with a serve into the net.

"It feels great to get our first conference win," said Wopat, a former Dos Pueblos High star. "We were a little shaky but it's still a win. We had a new lineup with me in the middle and Haward on the right side.

"We had some ups and downs with our energy level but we got it going at the end. When we get it going, we're really on fire."

The Vaqueros host L.A. Trade Tech on Friday at 6 p.m.