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By Zach Cavanagh

SAN CLEMENTE – After four years of dominance in the South Coast League, the San Juan Hills girls volleyball team stepped back into second place this season, but the Stallions earned the No. 2 seed in Division 2 and are proving they’re no second fiddle.

San Juan Hills was aggressive with its serves and rolled to its third straight sweep in a win over San Clemente, 25-20, 25-19, 25-15, in a CIF-SS Division 2 second-round match on Saturday at San Clemente High School.

“I’m really proud of the way we took care of business,” San Juan Hills coach Jessica Papell said. “The tough serving was a huge factor. We knew we could get them into some trouble if we served that way. We knew some hitter tendencies that if we blocked certain parts of the court would help us a lot.”

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The Stallions (25-5) will host Bishop Montgomery of Torrance in the quarterfinals on Wednesday, Oct. 30.

“Driving us right now is winning CIF and going on to state,” San Juan Hills senior Delaney Fuller said. “League didn’t go as planned, but it’s a whole new setup. We’re going more aggressive, taking big swings. It’s going to be a fun ride.”

After splitting the Sea View League championship for its second straight league title, San Clemente (22-6) ends its CIF-SS run against another South Coast League foe. The Tritons fell in the Division 2 semifinals to Trabuco Hills last season.

San Clemente will move back up to the South Coast League next season, and the Tritons now know exactly what they’ll have to contend with.

“It’s a good message for our girls,” San Clemente coach Casey Swenson said. “The amount of preparation that we’re going to have to do every single week as we raise up into the South Coast League again. I think that’s where we should be, and it’s just a matter of if we’re ready to have those really tough matches night in and night out.”

In the early portions of all three sets, San Clemente hung tough with San Juan Hills and played a gritty match throughout.

However, a block here and an ace there, and San Juan Hills went on runs to establish its lead.

San Clemente was within two points in the first set, but a 7-2 run gave the Stallions some distance. The Tritons fought off four set points, but San Juan Hills closed for the win, 25-20.

In the second set, the teams were tied at 6-6, but from there, the Stallions methodically took about two points to each one by San Clemente. San Juan Hills was consistent for the 25-19 win.

In the third set, San Clemente showed some fight with back-to-back kills by Abby Stewart for a 5-2 lead. However, San Juan Hills battled back to a 7-7 tie, and the Stallions went on a 9-1 run to push out and never look back in the 25-15 set win for the sweep.


Zach Cavanagh
Zach Cavanagh is the sports editor for Picket Fence Media. Zach is a California Journalism Award winner and has covered sports in Orange County since 2013. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @ZachCav and follow our sports coverage on Twitter @SouthOCSports.

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