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Vaqueros top Moorpark 3-1 to earn playoff berth

Kyle Skinner was pumped up and flying high with 19 kills, six digs, four blocks and two aces. (Photo by Ken Sciallo / Sevilla Photography)
Kyle Skinner was pumped up and flying high with 19 kills, six digs, four blocks and two aces. (Photo by Ken Sciallo / Sevilla Photography)

Kyle Skinner pounded 19 kills and Haward Gomes had 10 kills and 14 digs on Friday night at the Sports Pavilion as SBCC downed Moorpark 3-1 to earn a spot in the CCCAA men's volleyball playoffs. The scores were 27-29, 25-19, 25-17, 25-23.

The No. 7 Vaqueros (12-5) finished second in the WSC North with a 4-2 record. They'll be making their first postseason appearance since 2011 after going 5-1 at home. The ninth-ranked Raiders finish 8-9 and 2-4.

"We pooled our energy together and really played as a team," said the 6-4 Skinner, a former Santa Barbara High star who hit .326 and had six digs and four blocks. "Everyone on the court was focused on what we needed to do to win."

Skinner was one of five Vaqueros honored on Sophomore Night, along with Gomes, Adam Simonetti, Misaki Cramer and Cameron Fry.

Fry added eight kills and six blocks while 6-6 freshman Blake Lockhart had six kills and 14 digs. Simonetti racked up 43 assists and 15 digs. Cramer added 10 digs and three aces.

The Vaqueros' 61 digs were their second-highest total of the season. Skinner missed his season high in kills by one.

The Vaqueros enjoyed big leads of 12-5 and 21-14 in the second set and built a 16-9 advantage in Set 3 after three straight kills by Skinner, Scott Sanborn and Simonetti.

Moorpark led 8-4, 12-7 and 18-13 in the fourth set. Then the Vaqueros went on a 10-2 run, ignited by a Gomes' crosscourt kill and a slam in the middle by Fry. Skinner gave the home team a 23-20 advantage with a kill off the block and a solo block.

The Raiders cut it to 24-23 on a kill by Sean Fitzpatrick but Skinner responded with a kill off the block on match point.

"Kyle jumps very, very high but I think that was the highest I've seen him jump this year," said second-year coach Jon Newton. "He took it to another level and got everyone else excited."

There were 14 ties in the first set and SBCC fought off four set points. The Vaqueros had their own set point at 27-26 but Brad Freyder putaway a kill for the Raiders. Moorpark won it 29-27 on  two straight kills from the 10-foot line by Freyder.

"It all came down to the last game and either we or Moorpark were going to the playoffs," Newton noted. "I expected a first set like that, both teams came out and battled. Then, we got the jitters out of our system after having Sophomore Night and playing the last home game of the season.

"It was a full team effort. This was our highest-pressure match of the year. We just needed to play good volleyball and we did."