Granite Bay pounds Rocklin, claims Division I section volleyball crown
ELK GROVE — Carson Odegard’s hand struck down with a vengeance, like Zeus striking down mortals with a lightning bolt. It was the final spike of Granite Bay High School’s men’s volleyball season, one the Grizzlies ended on top.
The Grizzlies took home the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I championship after defeating Rocklin 28-26, 25-20, 25-17 at Monterey Trail. It was a fitting end for a dominant, experienced team that featured nine seniors on a 16-player roster.
“We knew coming out that it was going to be a battle,” senior Matt Austin said. “We just knew that we were going to have to play a little bit harder. Swing really hard, and swing high.”
Austin was the dominant force with 13 kills, but it was a collective effort by the
front line, which included Alec Naki (nine kills), Bryan Berry (six) and Odegard (five).
“Our strategy was to keep our ball control under control,” Austin said. “Mainly, keep our passing and our blocking technique intact. One of the most important things we needed to work on was keeping our heads down in the game and staying connected as a team, just keeping our composure.”
The teams exchanged extensive rallies before Granite Bay (31-7) edged the Thunder (17-5) in the first set. Granite Bay dominated the next two sets.
“They just passed the ball better and served better,” Rocklin coach Tyson Norton said of Granite Bay, which defeated Rocklin in four of five meetings this season. “Better ball control on their part.”
Big outside hitter Matt Laughrea of Rocklin sat out the first set due to disciplinary action. Granite Bay coach Bruce Honberger said his squad got complacent.
“The net effect was that we thought we were going to win (the first set) easily,” Honberger said. “So it was kind of like we played down to their level a little bit. When he (Laughrea) came back, both our teams were at full strength, and then it was just about playing with passion and confidence.”
Granite Bay turned it on in the second set. After taking an 18-17 lead, ace machine Jake Neptune served for four consecutive points and the Grizzlies cruised to victory.
Austin slammed down six kills in the final set, putting the show to rest.
“I kept telling them, you have to win the easy plays,” Honberger said. “We’re gonna make some tough plays, and they’re gonna make some tough plays. Volleyball is a momentum game, so when you get those, all of a sudden the next play gets a lot easier.”
Norton said he’ll most remember his squad’s “desire to win.” Kyle Loria led the Thunder with eight kills.