By Joe Naiman
Ramona High School’s boys volleyball team improved its Palomar League record to 5-3 with league wins April 24 at Rancho Bernardo and April 26 at home against Torrey Pines.
“I’m very proud of the boys,” said Coach Jeff Klauda.
The four-game win over Rancho Bernardo and the five-game win against Torrey Pines also gave Ramona a 21-15 season record.
The first game between Ramona and Rancho Bernardo ended with the 25-16 score in the Bulldogs’ favor.
“At the start of the match both teams were kind of out of it,” Klauda said. “The tempo was slow, but we played OK.”
After the Broncos took a 25-22 victory in game two, Ramona came back with 25-20 and 25-23 triumphs.
“We actually had a pretty sizable lead in most of the games,” Klauda said. “At the end of the fourth game we were kind of scrambling to find our offense.”
Two Matt Lawler swings produced kills that accounted for Ramona’s final 2 points.
“Our serve-receive was pretty shaky,” Klauda said. “We were able to grind out a win.”
The victory gave the Bulldogs their third 20-win season in the past four years.
“A nice little milestone,” Klauda said.
Lawler’s injury during practice April 25 was the Bulldogs’ lowlight of the week. During the practice, his hand swelled. X-rays revealed that he hadn’t broken a bone and no ligament damage is suspected, but a soft tissue tear will keep the sophomore middle blocker out indefinitely.
Sophomore middle blocker Lance Stickney was on Ramona’s junior varsity team as of that practice but had been practicing with the varsity. He runs many of the same offensive patterns and sets as Lawler, so he was promoted to varsity and started against Torrey Pines in his first varsity match.
“He actually played pretty well,” Klauda said.
Junior middle blocker Reed Hallums has also been called up to varsity. Klauda noted that Stickney and Hallums have different strengths and will see play based on the style of Ramona’s opponent.
Stickney took 18 swings against Torrey Pines and had five kills with only one hitting error. Ramona won the first game by a 25-20 margin.
Torrey Pines won the second game by the same score. “Had a lot of hitting errors in that second game,” Klauda said.
At one time the Falcons held a 21-14 lead in game three.
“Kenny Lawler went back (to serve) and just ran off six points in a row and basically served us back in the game,” said Klauda.
The Bulldogs tied the score at 24-24 before Torrey Pines closed the game with a 26-24 victory.
“We had a momentum shift,” Klauda said.
A 25-18 win in the fourth game was followed by a 15-12 victory in game five.
“It was nice to sweep Torrey Pines,” Klauda said.
Ramona defeated the Falcons at Torrey Pines in an April 17 match, which is believed to be the first time either a Ramona boys team or a Ramona girls team had won a match against the Falcons.
Travis May led the Bulldogs with 21 kills against Torrey Pines while Kenny Lawler had 14 kills.
Saturday’s CIF playoff selection and seeding meeting will determine whether
the Bulldogs have any additional home matches this year. April 26 was Senior Night, and the Bulldogs honored seniors May, Kenny Lawler, Garrett Adelman, Caleb Nelson, Luke Papps, Jake Hitt, and Weston Crowe. Crowe had been expected to be one of Ramona’s outside hitters this year prior to his cancer diagnosis, which kept him from playing, although he was able to attend the Senior Night ceremonies.
A win on Thursday at Mount Carmel will give the Bulldogs a winning league record.
“The Palomar league is just so stinkin’ tough,” Klauda said. “If we can finish with a winning record, that will be huge.”