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Cathedral Catholic grabs Open crown in boys volleyball

Zach Talampas and rest of the Cathedral Catholic boys volleyball team celebrate the Open Division title.
Zach Talampas and rest of the Cathedral Catholic boys volleyball team celebrate the Open Division title.
(Josh DaFoe / FOR THE U-T)

Thirty-one years ago, Cathedral Catholic High won a San Diego Section championship in boys volleyball.

On that team was Patrick Bonner.

Now the Dons coach, Bonner marveled at how his top-seeded team raced through the season, losing just four times in 30 outings.

The final victory came Saturday, May 14, as the Dons dropped the first set but rallied to win the next three sets for a 21-25, 25-12, 25-18, 25-23 win over No. 6 Westview in the Open Division finals at Mission Hills High.

“This was the plan,” Dons senior Patrick Buckel said. “I wasn’t even going to play this season until my uncle Marc Buckel passed away and I played the season for him.

“I am not playing in college, so this is my last season of volleyball with just a handful of state playoffs left.”

But Buckel and his teammates leave as the undisputed best team in the county with a 26-4 record thanks to winning their 13th consecutive match.

“This is a luxury of being good at every position,’’ Bonner said. “They are all experienced at high level of play.

“To have won a CIF as a senior at (University) and then to coach the Dons to a (title) this year is a great experience.”

Westview (22-13), which downed Sage Creek in Thursday’s if necessary game, never trailed in winning the first set against the Dons behind Luke Forster’s six kills.

But the Wolverines battled the odds in the final three sets, leading briefly just twice in those sets.

“We came into this final super arrogant,” said Buckel, who collected 25 kills and three blocks in the match. “It was very sobering to have that happen when we know we’re the better team.

“We’ve had our ups and downs this year. We knew what losing felt like and didn’t want it to happen today.

“Those final three sets felt more like us, the way we’re supposed to play, and that’s how we plan to play in the state tournament.”

Both Cathedral and Westview, along with Sage Creek and Torrey Pines, qualify for the state tournament that begins this week.

Buckel had plenty of help on offense with Mathew Poindexter recording 12 kills to go with five blocks. Dominick Engels had nine kills, three blocks and three aces as well.

Caden Sajnog topped the Wolverines with 14 kills and three blocks, followed by Forster’s 13 kills and a block.

“I am super happy the way this last season worked out,” Buckel said. “I wouldn’t change it for the world.”

Or miss winning a section championship.

Division II

Madision 3, El Camino 1: In a match with 14 lead changes and a tied score 31 times, Madison survived long enough to claim another San Diego Section championship thanks to a 25-22, 25-18, 19-25, 25-23 over the Wildcats.

The 16th consecutive win puts the No. 2 seeded Warhawks (32-3) into the state tournament. But it was not easy for the Eastern League champions, who suffered a loss to El Camino back on March 5.

Senior Cole Hauser kept Madison from losing its grasp on the momentum with 16 kills and four blocks. Nate Valverde added seven kills.

El Camino (29-10) got 19 kills from Tripler Letuligasenoa and 12 kills from Jayden Tua.

Madison is now 13-3 on neutral courts.

Division III

Grossmont 3, Morse 0: The Foothillers, the No. 2 seed, outlasted the top-seeded Tigers in each set, claiming the San Diego Section championship with a 26-24, 29-27, 25-19 victory.

The win left Grossmont (21-8) with a 6-5 record on neutral courts this season.

The Foothillers escaped in the first set by scoring the final three points, but the score was tied 16 times and the lead changed hands nine times in the second set.

Joshua Do led the winners with 13 kills, followed by Jackson Robbins and Cole Barrett with nine kills each.

Morse (26-9), last year’s Division V champion, got 16 kills from Jeremy Pineda, eight kills from Jan Kirby and seven kills from Machado Mathu.

Monahan is a freelance writer.


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