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Gomes keys Vaquero sweep in home opener

Haward Gomes had 10 kills and a sterling .667 hitting percentage. He's third in the state at .440. (Photo by Ken Sciallo / Sevilla Photography)
Haward Gomes had 10 kills and a sterling .667 hitting percentage. He's third in the state at .440. (Photo by Ken Sciallo / Sevilla Photography)

Haward Gomes produced 10 kills, six digs and three blocks on Wednesday night, leading No. 4 SBCC to a 25-23, 25-14, 25-20 men's volleyball sweep of L.A. Trade Tech.

Gomes, a 6-2 sophomore from Shingle Springs, Calif., hit .667 with no errors in the Vaqueros' home opener. Gomes only played the first two sets on a night that coach Jon Newton utilized 16 players.

SBCC hit a season-best .368 to improve to 5-0. The Beavers fell to 0-3.

"We definitely could have played better," said Gomes, who's No. 3 in the state in hitting percentage at .440. "We were overly excited about playing our first home match and that might have got to us a little bit.

"I was excited to play. I've been waiting to play at home for the last two years (he redshirted in 2017). We have a lot of redshirts who've been waiting a long time to show what they can do."

Trade Tech took a 7-4 lead in the opening set, then the Vaqueros went on an 11-4 run to open up a four-point lead at 15-11. The Beavers used a 6-1 burst to grab a 22-21 advantage when the Vaqueros were out of rotation.

Trailing 23-22, Gomes came alive with a kill off the block, another kill cross court and a block assist that secured the 25-23 victory.

"We started a little slow in the first set because the ball was really hard and we weren't used to it," said Gomes. "It was too pumped up and we switched to a different ball in the second set."

Kyle Skinner, a 6-4 sophomore from Santa Barbara High, had six kills and five digs. Adam Simonetti had 25 assists and Misaki Cramer led in digs with 11. Cramer is No. 1 in the state with 67 digs (3.94 per set).

The Vaqueros were up 14-10 in the second set when Scott Sanborn (4 kills in 5 attempts) killed one in the middle to ignite a 7-3 run that boosted the lead to 21-13. Cameron Fry served an ace for the 24th point and the Beavers' Yovanny Mata hit the antenna on set point.

Last year, the Vaqueros swept Trade Tech and only allowed 11, 13 and 16 points.

"I was a lot more impressed with Trade Tech, which is great," said Newton. "We want to see more volleyball teams do better. It's always tough to play against a weaker program. We knew we were a better team and we played down to their level. It's hard to create energy and momentum.

"Haward's been our guy this year. He plays so hard. He's a third-year guy and his volleyball IQ is high. He does a great job despite being a little undersized."

Newton sent out five reserves to start the third set, along with Simonetti. It was close for the first half with the Vaqueros leading by two points, 15-13. Carson Schmick put away a kill from the left side to start a 7-2 burst that stretched the lead to 22-15.

The Vaqueros went up 24-17 on a slam by Adam Shields and then surrendered three straight points before Bradley Kleven ended it with a left-handed tip kill.

SBCC had three aces and a season-worst 18 service errors.

"That wasn't our style of volleyball," Newton noted. "It was a slower game and it's hard to create momentum. Our serving was awful but that's kind of been our M.O. here at City College. We're trying to change that."

The Vaqueros will travel to face No. 6 El Camino on Friday night in Torrance.

"That's going to be a big game for us," stated Newton. "Everyone's looking at us to see if we're legit and we should be No. 4 in the state. We have a lot to prove and we want to justify our ranking."