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Senior hitter Scott Martin clubs a ball over the net Wednesday

GHS volleyball swept up by rival Live Oak
GILROY – The sorrow-filled look on senior setter Matt Largo’s face told the story of Wednesday’s sweeping three-game loss to neighboring rival Live Oak in a match that determined the league championship as well as a CCS Playoff berth.

“It always hurts to lose to Live Oak,” said Largo before joining his teammates for a post-match snack. “If we get luck on our side, we’ll get into CCS with an at-large.”

The anticipated five-game thriller between the T-CAL’s top two teams surprisingly finished up in only three games as the Gilroy High boys volleyball squad fell 12-15, 11-15, 5-15 to the visiting Acorns.

“They’re better than us. They’ve improved over the season and we had an off night. They couldn’t have played a much better game,” said co-head coach Craig Martin, whose squad holds a 19-9 overall record and 11-2 in T-CAL with both losses coming at the hands of Live Oak. “Their back row could dig us up. Their back row players just played really well.”

Only the league champ is assured a CCS spot with second-place Gilroy hoping for an at-large selection. But since the Mustangs are a ‘B’ school, Coach Martin believes that the ‘A’ schools even with a worse record will get the nod over his highly-successful unit.

“We just didn’t play a good game and they did. They beat us fair and square,” co-head coach Jay Baksa said. “It’s just one of those things where we have to tip our hats to them. I told the guys the field of combat is when things are proven and they beat us.”

Seniors Scott Martin (six kills) and Jason Medenceles (six kills) combined for 12 put-aways – a far cry from what Gilroy’s top two hitters have done throughout the season. Senior setters Tucker Baksa (team-high 12 assists plus five digs) and Largo (nine assists) distributed the ball around – but the Live Oak defense was ready for everything.

“We put the ball down and they would return it,” Coach Baksa said.

The Mustangs committed 18 unforced errors in only three games – adding insult to injury for the emotional group.

“Like we talked about in there, these kids have to be proud of what we’ve done,'” said Coach Martin, who had a short talk with his players in the locker room. “Three, four years ago we did not have a permanent (volleyball) coach. We had only six players on JV and now we have 30 kids in the program and we both had winning seasons.”

Regardless, the Mustangs wanted this one and came out battling point for point with Live Oak in game-one. But as the match wore on, Live Oak’s double-headed monster of six-foot-eight blockers Chris Deem and Drew Pearson were too much of an obstacle for the Gilroy hitters.

Senior middle Josh Gravell tallied seven block-ins despite the height differential up front – but the Acorns’ attack was too big and too strong this time around.

“They were hitting over our blocks,” Coach Baksa said.

When it wasn’t the big men for Live Oak, it was the Acorns’ outside hitters – Matt McElroy, Gavin Kolodge and Royce Newcomb – putting it down for points.

Not even the boisterous ‘Senior Night’ crowd at Gilroy High could get the Mustang spikers going for an extended rally.

In the opening game, Gilroy and Live Oak exchanged points up to 12-12 with the Mustangs fighting back from behind before the Acorns finished off on a clinching 3-0 run.

In the second game, Gilroy jumped out to a 5-1 advantage – but it was short-lived as the Acorns surge back ahead and never looked back. The Mustangs showed their resiliency – thwarting two Live Oak game points and scoring four straight. But the Acorns finished their second straight win off with a Deem kill.

In the third game, the Acorns kept coming – building an early 5-0 lead. The Mustangs crept back to within three, but Live Oak scored seven straight to seal the match.

SCHOLAR-ATHLETE: Senior Scott Martin was one of nine players to receive a $500 CCS Scholar-Athlete scholarship.

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