Before Arroyo Grande High senior Cameron Arnet heads east to continue his volleyball and engineering education at the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he wants to earn one more T-shirt.
The first two came after he helped the Eagles boys volleyball team to undefeated league titles his sophomore and junior seasons.
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The third is not far from his mind as Arroyo Grande continues to roll through the PAC 7.
“You’re thinking about the T-shirts and all the slogans you can put on the back,” he said following Tuesday’s sweep over San Luis Obispo. “We just used ‘Undefeated’ sophomore year and last year we had ‘Back-to-back league champs’ and ‘Business-like swagger.’
“We’ll be creative if we get a third one, too.”
Chances are, the shirts are coming.
Arnet recorded nine kills and five aces, and fellow senior Jack Empey notched 25 assists as the Eagles hammered past the visiting Tigers, 25-10, 25-9, 25-16.
“We’ve just been playing really consistent volleyball,” said Arnet, whose team hasn’t dropped a set in league play all year. “Our defense in particular is getting everything up, and it helps having a great setter like Jack and having great hitters who can keep the ball in.”
Arroyo Grande improved to 6-0 in league and 14-6 overall, winning its seventh straight match
without much resistance from an underclassmen-heavy Tigers squad still soaking up varsity experience.
“I don’t want to call it a rebuilding year, but it is almost that,” said San Luis Obispo coach Manny Carter after his team committed 13 service errors in the loss. “I feel like we have a good team. We have good athletes on our team. We just need more reps playing volleyball.”
Junior Shea McSorley had five kills, and senior Rennie Heza recorded 11 assists for the Tigers (10-6, 3-3), who regrouped to keep the third set close until the Eagles won five of six points to open up a 17-11 advantage.
“There was nothing to lose,” McSorley said. “If we couldn’t play as well as we could for the first two games, might as well try as hard as we can in the last one.”
But it still wasn’t enough to threaten an Arroyo Grande offense that was clicking on all cylinders, thanks to Empey’s versatile passing prowess and the finishing ability of Arnet, Keanu Morrison and Andrew Midyett.
“They’re very powerful as far as their hitters, and their setter is very consistent,” Carter said. “(Empey) can put the ball in the same spot every time, and their hitters know that.”
Added Arnet: “Knowing where the ball is going to be every time helps us deviate from having to look for the ball — we can look at the blockers instead. That makes us better hitters by a lot.”
Morrison had eight kills, including three and an ace in the final set, and Midyett chipped in with four kills, two digs and an ace.
“These guys push each other and make it fun for each other,” Arroyo Grande coach Laurel Allen said. “Their energy gets better and better, and they’re so unselfish. There’s no one person we always look to.”
The teams went back and forth in the first set until Arnet served 10 straight points to turn a three-point advantage into 21-9 on the scoreboard. Morrison finished off the game with a cross-court kill, and the Eagles scored 10 of the first 11 points in the next frame to take a commanding lead.
“Energy-wise, they just outhustled us,” McSorley said. “Anytime they got a kill they’d get so stoked, and they were a lot louder than us.”
Arroyo Grande might be destined for a third straight undefeated league title, but the Eagles are not willing to rest on their laurels.
More than another T-shirt, a chance to avenge last year’s opening-round exit in the CIF-Southern Section Division 2 playoffs is motivation enough.
“In the coming games … we’re looking to better ourselves,” said Arnet as Arroyo Grande hosts Paso Robles today and travels to Los Padres League-leading Templeton on Tuesday.
“So instead of going for a kill every swing, we might want to try tipping it or roll shot it just to work on those plays before facing better teams from different leagues.
“That’s all we can work on — just keep getting better.”