By Zach Cavanagh

SAN CLEMENTE – San Clemente girls volleyball faced the toughest challenge to its Sea View League supremacy in this league cycle on Tuesday, Sept. 24, but Abby Stewart and the Tritons aced the test against Tesoro.

Stewart posted a team-high 19 kills and sparked San Clemente’s decisive run in the fifth set to down Tesoro, 22-25, 25-21, 25-23, 25-27, 15-11, in a back-and-forth league match at San Clemente High School.

“We knew this was most likely going to be our toughest league competitor,” Stewart said. “We really wanted to get this win. It was a huge momentum-builder. Even with the first-game loss, we figured out a way to come back right away, snap back into it and get the momentum.”

Tesoro (1-1 in league) finished second to the champion Tritons (currently 16-5, 3-0) in league last season, with Tesoro’s two league losses each coming as four-set decisions to San Clemente.

“We hadn’t played them (Tesoro this year), but we’d seen them a couple times (in the same tournaments),” San Clemente coach Casey Swenson said. “They seemed similar to us. Lots of good steady weapons all the way around the court. I think we knew it was going to be tight.”

Following a winless South Coast League campaign in 2017, the Tritons were shuffled into the Sea View League. San Clemente has now won 11 consecutive league matches.

“We’re super close and all want the same thing,” Stewart said. “We want the same result, we all want to get the wins, and that helps us push forward. We want to live up to what we did last year, and finish with a great season this year.”

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Ella Gardiner was right behind Stewart with 18 kills, and Ashley Haas came in with huge kills in the fourth and fifth sets for 12 kills on 13 attempts. Chanel Sud nailed four aces, and Isabella Comes posted three aces.

“Our rhythm this season is getting a lot of different people in at different times,” Swenson said, “and always looking to find what combo is going to catch fire. I think all the girls at this point know that their number could get called up, and they’re ready to go.”

In the decisive fifth set, a kill by Stewart broke a 4-4 tie with Tesoro, and with Stewart serving, San Clemente never gave up the lead. Haas made three kills in a 5-0 run.

“We just wanted to get quick side-outs,” Stewart said of the late run, “and whenever we had the ball, get long serves, long runs and keep everything in, limit our airs and swing smart, listen to the other girls around us knowing where to hit the ball.”

San Clemente led by as many as six points in the final game. Tesoro fought off one set point, but Stewart ended a long rally with the closing kill to take the set, 15-11, and the match.

The Tritons’ next match was to be at Trabuco Hills on Thursday, Sept. 26, but the match was postponed for former Dana Hills coach Oz Simmons’ celebration of life at Dana Hills High School. The nonleague match will be played on Oct. 14.

San Clemente returns to league action at Mission Viejo on Tuesday, Oct. 1.

 

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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