By Joe Naiman
Although Ramona High School’s boys volleyball team lost its April 1 league match at Rancho Bernardo, Ramona coach Jeff Klauda considers the week one of the most successful in Ramona volleyball history as the Bulldogs had home wins March 29 against La Jolla and March 30 against Poway.
“As far as I know, that’s the first time Ramona boys volleyball has beaten Poway,” Klauda said.
“It was a big win in a number of ways.”
The win over La Jolla was also significant, as the Vikings have reached the CIF Division III finals in each of the past four seasons including the 2007-08 season when La Jolla defeated Ramona in the championship match.
The victories over La Jolla and Poway were also important as a measure of improvement from the previous week. Ramona had a 25-13, 25-14, 25-14 non-league win over Del Norte on March 24 before playing in the La Jolla Tournament the following two days.
Ramona’s March 25 pool play matches were at Point Loma High School.
The Bulldogs were seeded second in their four-team pool and finished third after a 25-8, 25-12 win over Foothills Christian, a 25-14, 25-22 loss to Beckman (Irvine) in which the Bulldogs led the second game by a 22-21 margin, and a 28-30, 25-13, 15-13 loss to third-seeded San Juan Hills (San Juan Capistrano).
“We played well at times and poorly at times,” Klauda said. “Sometimes we were focused and we played real hard. All of a sudden it just is gone.”
The third-place pool showing put Ramona into the Bronze Division for the March 26 matches and gave the Bulldogs a venue of Otay Ranch High School. Klauda informed the players that he and assistant coach Connie Halfaker couldn’t improve the focus aspect of the game.
“They seemed to learn from that the second day,” Klauda said.
Ramona started the second day of play against Sanger, losing by a 25-22 score in the first game before taking 25-18 and 15-13 victories to win the match.
“We started serving real tough,” Klauda said.
Billy White had 17 kills, including the match’s final two points, and only three hitting errors in 31 swings against Sanger.
“Billy was just unstoppable,” Klauda said. “He was just hitting over guys and around them.”
White had 14 kills in Ramona’s next match, a three-game win over Tesoro High School of Mission Viejo. After a 25-13 Ramona win in the first game, Tesoro evened the match with a 25-21 win before the Bulldogs prevailed by a 15-13 score in the deciding contest.
That put Ramona into the Bronze Division semifinals against Palisades (Pacific Palisades), which advanced to the finals with a 25-20, 28-26 win at the Bulldogs’ expense.
“Overall we played pretty well. Serve-receive was pretty good,” Klauda said.
“While we didn’t play as well as we hoped, we actually learned a lot of lessons,” Klauda said.
“It gave Connie and I a lot of ideas about things we need to fix.”
Those areas of improvement were mechanical rather than mental, so during practice March 28 the team worked on positioning before hosting La Jolla the following day.
“We played much better. Intensity was very good, and Billy White was an absolute beast,” Klauda said. “Defensively played very well.”
The win over La Jolla took four games. After a 25-17 win to open the match, Ramona missed six serves and had six hitting errors as the Vikings won game two by a 25-21 score.
“We just gave 12 points away,” Klauda said.
Ramona came back with 25-19 and 25-21 victories to capture the match. White’s 47 swings produced 25 kills and only four hitting errors, and he also had four blocks and nine digs. Luis Nunez had eight kills, Travis May had six kills and two blocks, libero Caleb Nelson led the team with 13 digs, and setter Garrett Adelman had 40 assists.
“It was a pretty good team win,” Klauda said.
Ramona swept Poway in three games the following day. “Played even better than we did Tuesday,” Klauda said. “We hardly ever had a pass that was off-target.”
After 26-24 and 25-23 victories in the first two games, the Bulldogs closed out the match with a 25-18 triumph.
“Our serve-receive was good, and our defense was great,” Klauda said. “We didn’t change anything, kept playing intense.”
White led the Bulldogs with 12 kills while Nunez added six kills. May had three blocks to lead the team while Adelman contributed 22 assists.
The win over Poway gave Ramona a 1-1 Palomar League record entering the April 1 match at Rancho Bernardo, which took a 1-0 league record into the showdown after having defeated Torrey Pines in five games earlier in the week (Ramona’s match against Westview was moved up to accommodate the Wolverines’ Spring break).
Ramona won the first game by a 25-22 score, although a slight illness was affecting White’s play.
“The gym was real hot, and he wasn’t feeling good,” Klauda said. “Second game Billy was really struggling.”
Klauda replaced White during the second game, which ended with the Broncos on the favorable end of the 25-17 score.
“We kept it close for a while,” Klauda said. “Towards the end they ran off a bunch of points.”
White returned to the floor near the end of the third game, which was a 25-19 Rancho Bernardo victory, but he came off during the fourth game which was another 25-17 Bronco triumph.
Klauda isn’t using White’s illness as an excuse.
“It’s not a one-man show,” Klauda said.
“We played a really good game. We weren’t quite as good as we were Tuesday and Wednesday,” Klauda said. “Rancho Bernardo played an amazingly good game.”
Nunez led the Bulldogs with 11 kills during the Rancho Bernardo match. The loss gave Ramona an 8-5 overall season record as well as a 1-2 Palomar League figure.