Canyon boys volleyball went into its Thursday-night match against El Toro with one focus: Slow down Chargers outside hitter Jacob Steele.
The Pepperdine commit came off a 309-kill junior campaign and based off his performance against the Cowboys, he could be on track to an even better season this time around.
Although Canyon handled him aptly, Steele was a catalyst in El Toro’s 3-1 win over the Cowboys at Canyon.
“We were committing on him a lot even if he was in the back row,” said senior Dustin Deisbeck. “We would double block up, try and funnel him to the libero whenever we could. Just try to limit his abilities.”
The Chargers (3-1) snagged a 25-17 win for themselves in the first game, but the Cowboys didn’t let up so easily in the second frame.
Canyon (5-4) scored three consecutive points to start the game and proceeded to keep El Toro at bay by two points or more for the majority of the stanza.
“We were just making less errors,” said coach Jeff Cody. “The chemistry on the court was working and we were attacking. Instead of like, relying on safety plays, we played a little bit more dangerously, I think you could say.”
Game 3 started off close, but the Chargers went on a seven-point scoring run capped by a Steele kill to set up a 13-5 lead that the Cowboys couldn’t recover from. El Toro went on to win the game 25-18.
With an identical result in the fourth game, Canyon was wounded by errors that put them in a double-digit deficit. An ace from Kai Soma was El Toro’s final dagger.
Deisbeck paced the Cowboys with 13 kills, followed by Esquivel Ramirez with eight.
The former is experiencing an early breakthrough this season after spending last year in the shadow of then-seniors Shea Stanford and Regan Marsh.
“This is kind of his season,” said Cody of Deisbeck. “…He’s just an all-around player. He does everything in the game well. He’s fundamentally one of the best players I’ve had.”
The Cowboys next host Taft on March 13 and will later begin Foothill League play at Saugus on March 22.