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As the champions of winter compete for their crowns, the throng of spring sports teams take to the field, diamond, pool, court, track and sand.
The spring season features a loaded schedule, with San Clemente High School fielding a whopping 13 spring squads, compared to the seven teams in each of the winter and fall seasons.
Individuals such as returning state swimmers Noah Sech and Madelyn Philips or distance runner Juan Chantaca and the CIF-SS champion boys cross country team will have sectional and state ambitions, while there are three team sports that are showcased in the early-season CIF-SS rankings.
With those goals and expectations in mind, let’s look at some of the top Triton teams in this spring season:
Girls Beach Volleyball
As the sport enters its second season as a CIF-sanctioned sport, girls beach volleyball teams now have something extra to look forward to with their first CIF-Southern Section championship playoffs.
For a sport to warrant CIF-SS playoffs, there must be a minimum of 20% of the section’s member schools to field a team. The Southern Section reached that number this season, so there will be both bracketed team playoffs and a pairs tournament.
With CIF-SS playoffs also come divisional rankings and a preseason watch list. San Clemente is one of a handful of local schools on the initial CIF-SS Division 1 and 2 watch list, including Capistrano Valley Christian, JSerra and St. Margaret’s. Tesoro is the only other South Coast League team that made the watch list with the Tritons.
San Clemente will also feature a full South Coast League schedule this season, which begins on March 8 against Dana Hills at Lasuen Beach, aka Lost Winds. All but two of the Tritons’ league matches will take place at Lasuen Beach, with the exceptions being a road match at Tesoro on March 22 and a match against Aliso Niguel at the Great Park in Irvine on April 11.
League Finals will be contested at Tesoro on April 14-15, with the first round of the CIF-SS team playoffs on April 27. CIF-SS Finals will be on May 5 or 6, and the pairs tournament finals will be May 9-10.
Beach volleyball is contested with five pairs playing best 3-of-5 matches.
After a legendary 22-season run from longtime coach Ken Goldstone, the San Clemente boys volleyball team is now on its second coach in two seasons.
The Tritons are now helmed by head coach Justin DeBlasio, who is the director and owner of 949 Athletics and was previously the head coach at Santa Margarita for 10 seasons. DeBlasio also coached the San Juan Hills boys volleyball team in 2012.
Last season under J Bisch, the Tritons kept up the Goldstone legacy with a 21-12 record overall and a 7-1 record in league play to capture another South Coast League championship.
While the Tritons lose their No. 1 kill combination from last season—the now-graduated pair of setter Landon Seymore and Luke Shanafelt—San Clemente returns several key players, including senior middle Luke Ingersoll, senior opposite Brad Munson and junior libero Kai Schmitt.
San Clemente opens with pair of annually strong-fielded tournaments at Tesoro and the Best of the West. The Tritons will also host Capistrano Valley Christian on March 7, Laguna Hills on March 9, and Laguna Beach on March 14.
San Clemente opens defense of its three consecutive South Coast League titles at home against San Juan Hills on March 16. The Tritons also host key matches against Tesoro on March 21 and Aliso Niguel on March 28.
Of all the spring sports teams at San Clemente, the Tritons girls lacrosse team might be the most talented among them.
San Clemente opens the season at No. 4 in the CIF-SS Division 1 poll, behind No. 3 St. Margaret’s, No. 2 Santa Margarita and No. 1 Foothill. The Tritons are in that top four because nearly all of their top talent from last season’s unbeaten South Coast League champion.
Chief among those returners is San Clemente’s leading scorer Sophia Yeskulsky, who far and away led the Tritons with 62 goals, 70 points and 33 ground balls as a freshman last season. Emma Massamiri returns as the Tritons senior leader with 41 goals and team-highs in assists (15) and caused turnovers (17).
Taylor Juncaj scored 29 goals as a sophomore. Tessa Campbell is a senior with 21 goals last season.
San Clemente’s biggest loss is in the cage, where the Tritons graduated both of their goaltenders.
Expectations for San Clemente should be high with another league title likely in its sights. Last season, the Tritons lost in the first round of the Division 1 playoffs at Santa Margarita, 13-5. Can the Tritons prove themselves against those elite teams?
San Clemente hosts No. 8 Redondo Union on Saturday, Feb. 25, and No. 1 Foothill on Tuesday, Feb. 28. The Tritons play at No. 4 Palos Verdes on March 15. San Clemente opens league play at Aliso Niguel on March 23.
Despite a losing record overall last year and a losing record in Sea View League play, the San Clemente baseball team did what it needed to down the stretch to secure a playoff spot.
It was valuable experience for a team that had plenty of young talent. The spot where seniors made their impact for the Tritons was on the mound, and it will be the spot San Clemente needs the most work.
One of those players helping on the mound was one of the Tritons’ top hitters last season, Rhyn Chambers. Chambers, a senior, drove in 15 runs and scored 15 runs on 26 hits, including two home runs.
San Clemente’s leading batter from last season returns in senior Chase Brunson, who led the Tritons with 19 runs and 30 hits, including 10 doubles and two triples. Other top returning hitters include juniors Brock DellaVedova and Pearce Brown.
On the mound, San Clemente will get contributions from senior Hayden Dill and junior Carson Nicholson.
San Clemente opens league play at Aliso Niguel on March 7 and hosts the Wolverines on March 15.
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