East County Sports

Hillers are “OS-SM” boys volley champs

2022 EAST COUNTY BOYS VOLLEYBALL

 

By Nick Pellegrino
ECS staff writer

SAN MARCOS — For students at Grossmont High, the news is awesome (“OS-SM”)!

For the first time in a quarter-century, Grossmont owns a CIF San Diego Section championship in boys volleyball.

On Saturday (May 15), the Foothillers claimed the Division III crown by out-lasting top-seeded Morse in three sets. The first two sets lasted into “extended play” (overtime) before prevailing ,26-24, 29-27, 25-19. The event was held at Mission Hills High.

MONDAY UPDATE: Grossmont has qualified for the CIF Southern California Regional in in Division IV, receiving a home match on Tuesday at 6  p.m. by entertaining the Animo Robinson Monarchs of Los Angeles (15-1). The Hillers are the top seeds among the 8 quarter-finalists.

Should the favored Hillers advance, they will gain a Thursday night home match against the winner between No. 5 Mar Vista (Imperial Beach) and No. 4 L.A. Mendez.

See Regional Bracket HERE

“We played some scrappy defense with some big hits,” said Grossmont head coach Aaron French. But it all starts with our setter.”

Junior setter Derek Smith orchestrated the offense, allowing Grossmont spikers to keep pounding away.

Senior Cole Bennter and junior Josh Do led the way with 13 kills each, while junior Jackson Robbins added 12 put-a-ways.

Defending the net were junior Ryan Ceccherini with four blocks, while Ricardo Lorja added three rejections of Morse Tigers attacks.

It was Grossmont’s first title game appearance since 2010, but the school’s first crown since a three-year span when the Hillers were twice Division II sections champions in 1995 and 1997, with a runner-up finish in between.

The 1997 title was a match against Monte Vista in a thrilling, 5-set, all-Grossmont Conference finale utilizing the old scoring system, 16-14, 9-15, 15-11, 14-16, 15-12.

Grossmont (21-8 overall) finished the regular season in a three-way deadlock with El Cajon Valley and Helix as champions of the Grossmont Hills League with 6-2 marks — Grossmont swept ECVHS, who swept Helix, who swept the Hillers.

Grossmont gained the second seed to receive a first-round bye, meeting El Capitan in the quarterfinals. The Vaqueros , the No. 10 seed, upset No.  7 Fallbrook in a sweep, but then the Hillers survived a first-set wipe-out to tally past the Vaws in four sets, 9-25, 28-26, 25-16, 36-34.

El Capitan (21-17) shared the Grossmont Valley League crown with Granite Hills (21-14) at 9-1. Granite Hills was seeded No. 8, defeating No. 9 Hilltop in three before falling to Morse, also in three.

In the semifinals, Grossmont gained a third meeting with  GHL rival El Cajon Valley (20-13) in winning in four sets by again dropping the opener to down the Braves, 23-25, 25-16, 25-21, 25-16.

In Division I, Helix was seeded No. 8, yet fell to No. 9 The Bishop’s inn four. The Knights went on to upset top-seeded Canyon Crest and La Jolla in four before falling in the title match to Francis Parker in a five-set marathon.

French previously was head coach at St. Augustine, reaching the 2012 semifinals.

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