Bulldog spikers place third in Monte Vista Varsity Classic
By Joe Naiman
Ramona High School’s boys volleyball team opened its season March 8 and 9 by taking third place in the Monte Vista Varsity Classic tournament while winning six of seven matches.
“We really got everything that I wanted out of it,” said coach Jeff Klauda.
What Klauda wanted most was competitive play for his team.
“We got lots of play in,” he said, adding that the March 8 victories allowed reserves to have playing time.
Last year’s Ramona team which finished 22-18 after reaching the CIF Division II semifinals had seven seniors, including four of Ramona’s five all-league players. The fifth all-league player, Matt Lawler, has opted to focus on other sports and did not try out for the 2013 volleyball team. This year’s Bulldog squad includes only four seniors and only one player — senior outside hitter Josh Spieker — who was a starter for all of 2012.
“It’s a good group. They’re fun to work with,” Klauda said of his team. “We’re still going to have some growing pains.”
Ramona spent both days of the Monte Vista Varsity Classic at Monte Vista High School. Spieker was ill and did not play in any of the March 8 matches, so sophomore Davis Windes was Ramona’s starting outside hitter. Ramona’s other sophomore, Isaiah Spieker, earned the Bulldogs’ starting setter position. The Bulldogs also started three juniors, including libero Jake McLaughlin, and two seniors.
“It was a pretty young, inexperienced lineup,” Klauda said.
The Bulldogs faced West Hills in their first match and prevailed by a 25-19 score in the first game.
“It took a while,” Klauda said. “The first half of the game was real up and down.”
Ramona sealed the match with a 25-7 victory over the Wolfpack in the second game.
“We played much cleaner in the second game,” Klauda said. “We made West Hills earn their sideouts.”
The Bulldogs then took a 25-13, 25-16 victory over Monte Vista.
“We served very well,” Klauda said. “We put a lot of pressure on them with our serves.”
Morse was Ramona’s next opponent.
“We started a little slow,” Klauda said. “We were down for a while.”
Ramona was ahead at the end of both games against the Tigers, winning by 25-20 and 25-21 margins.
The Bulldogs secured first place in their pool with a 25-18, 25-11 victory over Southwest to close out the first day of play.
Although the Bulldogs’ first Saturday match was not until 12:30 p.m., it was still played without junior opposite hitter Cody Kealy, who took the Scholastic Aptitude Test that day. Windes took Kealy’s place as the right side hitter.
“He did very well,” Klauda said.
Kealy arrived at Monte Vista High School in time for Ramona’s second March 9 match, but after he struggled in the first game Klauda, who remembers his own mental exhaustion after taking the SAT, returned Windes to the opposite hitter position for the rest of the day.
“It was nice to know that we have him to fill in at two different spots,” Klauda said.
Ramona’s first Saturday match was against Valley Center, who will be a Valley League opponent this year.
Despite five missed serves in the first game against the Jaguars, the Bulldogs were on the favorable end of the final 25-23 score. Ramona then defeated Valley Center by a 25-19 margin to seal the match. Josh Spieker had seven kills in his first match of the tournament, senior outside hitter Josh Plunkett added six kills, senior middle blocker Reed Hallams contributed five kills, and Isaiah Spieker had 22 assists.
Ramona’s tournament loss was in the semifinals against eventual champion El Camino.
“El Camino’s very solid this year. They’ve got some size. All their guys are very athletic,” Klauda said. “They played faster than any of our guys have seen yet.”
The Wildcats won the first game by a 25-10 score before settling for a closer 25-19 victory in the second game.
“The guys started to adjust and compete again,” Klauda said. “We were point for point for a lot of the game.
Late in the second game Ramona missed five serves.
“That makes it pretty hard when you make it easy for the other team to sideout,” Klauda said.
The Monte Vista Varsity Classic includes a third-place match, which this year was between Ramona and Mar Vista. The Bulldogs came from behind in the first game to take a 27-25 victory. The Mariners evened the match with a 25-22 triumph in game two.
In the third game Ramona missed only one serve.
Hallams had three kills in three swings during the final game, which ended as a 15-9 Ramona victory.
“The guys played well,” Klauda said. “They competed well and they responded well.”
Klauda also noted that Ramona’s players kept their composure during the final game of the third-place match.
“It was an intense match. A lot of emotions were going on. But we kept our heads,” he said.
Due to Spring Break issues, Ramona’s first league match was rescheduled to Friday. The contest against Escondido will also be Ramona’s first home match of the season.
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- Bulldog spikers beat Westview
- Bulldog spikers open with loss at Carlsbad
- Three league matches give Bulldog spikers 3-1 record
- Bulldog spikers beat Patriots, take Sundevils to five games
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