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By Zach Cavanagh
LAS FLORES – Going into Thursday, only one team had even taken a set from the San Clemente girls volleyball team in six matches of Sea View League play.
Thursday’s match provided the Tritons an opportunity to lock up back-to-back league titles, but that one team, Tesoro, took more than a set from San Clemente and delayed any celebration.
Tesoro was dominant in its set wins and nearly stole San Clemente’s one set in a four-set victory, 25-16, 25-16, 23-25, 25-17, in a Sea View League match at Tesoro High School.
“Their team, girl for girl, is every bit as talented,” San Clemente coach Casey Swenson said of Tesoro. “The last match was a bloodbath, and we knew this was going to be the same way. They were ferocious. Tesoro was picking up every loose ball, it felt like every break went their way.”
San Clemente (19-6, 6-1) defeated Tesoro (13-5, 5-1) in a five-set thriller at SCHS on Sept. 24. A San Clemente win would have clinched the league title outright for the Tritons, but now the teams look to be on course to tie for the league championship.
“We’ve got a great team, they’ve got a great team,” Swenson said, “and that’s probably the way it should be.”
San Clemente has one league game remaining at home against Mission Viejo on Wednesday, Oct. 16, and Tesoro has two league games remaining at Mission Viejo on Monday, Oct. 14 and at home against Capistrano Valley on Wednesday, Oct. 16.
The Tritons swept Mission Viejo in their first meeting, and the Titans took four-set victories in both first meetings against Mission Viejo and Capistrano Valley.
Against Tesoro, San Clemente didn’t seem to have its normal mojo from the start. Each set began with spirited points, but Tesoro pushed out to seven- and nine-point leads in the first set and seven-, eight- and nine-point leads in the second set. The Titans took each of the first two sets, 25-16 and 25-16.
“They made us off,” Swenson said. “They just came with an energy. We matched that intensity, but I think we let that intensity get the best of us a little bit. That’s all because of the pressure they were putting on us.”
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San Clemente rebounded in the third set and led by as many as five points, but Tesoro kept close and came within one point at 22-21 and 24-23. The Tritons finished off the set, 25-23, to stay alive.
“We had to fight tooth and nail for every single point,” Swenson said. “It’s the best I’ve seen them (Tesoro) play.”
In the fourth set, Tesoro went on an 8-2 run and led by as many as eight points to cruise to a 25-17 win.
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.