The Mariners wanted to send a message. This one might carry all the way over the hill.
The Aptos Mariners dismantled the Harbor Pirates in a 25-17, 25-15, 25-14 three-set win to bring home the Santa Cruz Coast Athletic League Tournament championship to go along with their regular season co-league championship.
The No. 1 seed Mariners (25-9, 14-1) used their mix of young blockers and seasoned hitters to steamroll over last year’s SCCAL champions.
Their defense, powered by Karsen Welle, Maddy Bol and Elise Coash, sent away nearly every Harbor attack, and Jenna Belton, Taylor Guy and Claire Coash hammered away time and time again.
“We played the best we’ve ever played,” said Belton, who finished with 12 kills and 10 digs. “We knew that Harbor was going to really fired up for this game from beating Soquel, and we knew that we had to come out more so. I think we did it.”
The Pirates played the role of spoiler Tuesday against the No. 2 seed Soquel Knights when they beat the regular season co-champions 25-23, 13-25, 25-23, 25-20 to advance to the final.
But Thursday they ran into a buzz-saw named Aptos.
“We didn’t really care who we were against,” Belton, the future University of Sothern California sand volleyball player, said. “We just wanted to prove who was number one.”
They left no doubt as they quickly and seemingly effortlessly picked apart the talented Pirates point by point.
“That was a message,” Aptos head coach David Faz said. “That was a message that that league title is ours. There's no doubt about it. They came out of here with an attitude.”
Faz and company will have tougher test when they start Central Coast Section playoffs Tuesday. They will compete in D-III.
“I think that anything is possible with the ability that they’ve shown,” Faz said. “If we played we did today, or better, then we should make some noise in CCS.”
Last season they were bested in the second round by Sacred Heart-Cathedral Prep in a three-set sweep.
“It’s a big confidence boost to come out here and play this well,” Belton said. “We just need to stay at this level. We’ve competed there and we’ll compete again.”
In each set the Mariners took off on powerful runs.
They started the first set by building a five-point lead, which they expanded to as large as eight to go up 1-0, and the rest of the match went the same.
Aptos finished the second set on a 14-2 run, and the third set they opened a 13-point gap that Harbor was unable to close.
“Our blocks was really the machine that put us at a whole new level,” Faz said. “Our ability frustrate their offense was great and our passing was awesome.”
Their youth, which was their weakness in their only league loss of the season against the Knights, set, blocked and dug their team to victory.
Bol had six kills, four digs and nine blocks. Madi Dueck finished with 18 digs. Welle recorded five kills and six rejections. Elise Coash notched three digs, seven blocks and 39 assists.
Claire finished with 12 kids and five digs. Guy chipped in with four kills, eight digs and two blocks.
“We were all really focused today,” said freshman setter Elise Coash. “We were all really clicking and we worked well as a team. That’s what volleyball is really all about. It’s not about how individual players are playing, but how we play as a unit.”
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