Sometimes height in volleyball is just too much to overcome.
Such was the case in a first round CIF-Southern Section Division 2 volleyball match for the Arroyo Grande High boys team against Dos Pueblos.
But the Eagles (14-1) didn’t go down without a tough fight in a four-set loss to the Chargers at home Tuesday.
After winning the first set 25-19, Arroyo Grande, the PAC 7 champion, lost the next three sets 25-19, 25-20 and 25-22.
Both coaches said afterward that the matchup was a tough first-round draw.
“I talked with Arroyo Grande coach Laurel Allen before this match, and we both agreed this was a very tough matchup,” Dos Pueblos coach Chris Hughes said. “We were four points away from winning our (Channel) league and placed third. They were dominant in their league. Both teams are very good.”
Arroyo Grande entered the postseason with an 8-0 league record, making them perfect in league for the second consecutive year.
The Eagles were led by junior Cameron Arnet with 16 kills, and Logan Honeycutt had 13 kills, while Jack Empey logged 45 assists.
“I think we played well and we have no regrets, but I think we just weren’t quite consistent enough throughout the match,” Arnet said. “We had a great season. But we can walk away saying we gave it our best.”
Nine players on the Dos Pueblos roster were listed at 6-foot-3 or taller, including four 6-5 players, compared with three players 6-3 or above for Arroyo Grande.
Arnet admitted that the Eagles realized they were up against some size when Dos Pueblos first walked into the gym.
The Eagles trailed 7-2 in the first set, showing some signs of nerves, but came storming back on key serves by Kris Kleinsmith. The Eagles took a 13-12 lead, holding their advantage the rest of the way for a 25-19 margin.
Kleinsmith used his big, topspin jump serve to keep the Chargers off balance while teammate Chandler Mankins manned the middle, pounding a couple of stuff blocks back at the Chargers, including one to make it 23-18.
But the Chargers bounced back in the second set, getting some powerful hitting and big blocks of their own, including some from 6-5 hitter Jackson Wopat, who converted on 12 of 18 kill attempts.
In the third set, the Eagles’ struggles to get the ball over the height at the net continued.
In the middle of the action for the Chargers stood 6-4 Cameron Fry, who jammed some Eagles spike attempts before they started making adjustments.
Fry had five blocks on the night, and made it difficult for the Eagles hitters who had to adjust shots in his presence.
The Eagles used their 6-4 power man, Andrew Midyett, on some spikes in which he ran to the side and jumped off one foot to spike the ball in addition to mixing their sets to the left and right to adjust to Dos Pueblos’ net attack.
The Eagles trailed 10-5 in the third set, but closed the gap to 16-13 and appeared primed to close the gap after a kill and stuff kill by Arnet pulled Arroyo Grande within 19-17.
But the Chargers powered past the Eagles with big spikes to end the set.
In the fourth game, the Eagles did a good job of getting sideouts but faulted on three consecutive serves early in the set and then missed on three additional serves later in the set.
“We were trying to serve the ball aggressively, but I think some unforced errors cost us,” Allen said. “We played against a very good team. But I think we’re a very good team, too. It was a tough match.”
Empey anchored his team by holding three serves to make it 11-10. And a tip kill by Empey later in the set gave the Eagles a 17-15 lead.
But it was all Chargers from there, and Dos Pueblos was able to balance its passing, serving, and spiking attack well to finish out the match.
“I think they were trying to serve more aggressively to put the pressure on us, but that’s a lot of pressure on their serving as well,” Hughes said. “They’re a tough team.”