Last year, Ramona High School’s boys volleyball team won the Valley League championship and reached the finals of the CIF Division III playoffs. This year, the Bulldogs have been moved up to Division II and the Valley League has been realigned to add perennial contender Mount Carmel.
The Bulldogs are preparing for such tougher competition by a strong pre-league schedule. The first of those matches resulted in a three-game loss March 11 at Carlsbad.
“We did not play well,” said Coach Jeff Klauda. “The way we played, it was not what I was hoping to see.”
The Bulldogs had a negative hitting percentage, obtaining 14 kills in those three games while making 18 hitting errors. Ramona had four serving aces and 15 missed serves.
The differences between this year’s volleyball team and last year’s squad also involve the loss of three starting 2008 seniors. Valley League player of the year Stephen Spieker is now playing at Mesa College, and Ramona’s current setter, Garrett Adelman, is a freshman who made his high school debut against Carlsbad.
“He actually played better than I thought he was going to,” Klauda said. “He’s picking up things so fast.”
The 2008 graduates also included opposite hitter Alex Nau, and sophomore Luis Nunez began the match as the opposite hitter. On the fourth play of the first game, however, Adrian Papps rolled his ankle and was lost for the rest of the match. Nunez moved to the outside hitter position to replace Papps.
Klauda was pleased with Nunez’s debut.
“He got a lot of sets and kept them in play,” Klauda said.
The graduation of Chris Nelson led Klauda to move Stuart Corbett from middle blocker to outside hitter. Corbett led the team with seven kills. Greg Gallagher, who was a backup on the varsity last year, joined returner Brian Allen as a starting middle blocker.
Ramona struggled to get the ball to its middle blockers, and Gallagher and Allen combined for only nine swings and two kills in the match.
“It was pretty obvious why we lost,” Klauda said.
Trevor Adelman returns as Ramona’s libero. The older Adelman brother led the team with 15 digs, including nine in the first game.
The Lancers won the first game by a 25-13 score. Carlsbad rested some of the players in the second game until Ramona tied the score at 20 points, and the Lancers eventually prevailed by a 25-23 margin.
Carlsbad completed the sweep with a 25-21 win in the third game.