Castaic Coyotes boys’ volleyball won the program’s first home game on Tuesday in a non-league win over the Trinity Knights.
The Coyotes won the match 3-1 with scores of 25-23, 25-19, 22-25 and 25-12.
Castaic junior Riley Humphrey set the tone right away with a kill on the first play of the opening set. Humphrey led the Coyotes with 11 kills.
However, on the other side of the net, senior Mario Bethke willed his team back into the game. The Coyotes closed out the first set thanks to some unforced errors by the Knights.
Bethke’s swing and serve kept his team in every set. The senior’s jump serve sparked 4-0 and 5-0 runs in the second frame, causing havoc in the Castaic serve receive, but the Knights still fell in the second.
Bethke finished with 10 kills.
Trinity made a stand in the third set. On the verge of being swept, down 19-16, the Knights fought back and stole the game, forcing a fourth set. For Trinity head coach Dan Hastings, it was all about focus.
“We got our heads in the game,” Hastings said. “We thought we were down and thought we’re going to lose but a couple points went our way. So, once they got that out of their head, they went full steam ahead.”
Junior Jed Browning was key in the comeback, knocking down two of his seven kills in the third set.
Castaic buckled down and closed out the match with a dominating fourth set. Humphrey knocked down his last three kills of the game while several other Coyotes found some offensive rhythm late in the match.
Castaic head coach David Chae was proud of his team’s finish, as the group has had some struggles closing out sets.
“The guys tried really hard and they are putting so much time and effort into this,” Chae said. “They deserve this victory but Trinity was tough. They had an awesome hitter on the outside. Their serving was leaps and bounds of improvement from last year. I’m just excited that we closed the game out. That was the big thing for us. The last five to 10 points, we’ve really struggled with, but everybody came through today.”
Chae was also pleased with his team’s growth defensively.
“I loved our effort and our defense,” Chae said. “Our libero Alecxis Padlan, he takes initiative. He gets up for every ball and I’m just excited for him. I’m excited for the guys’ maturity. They have matured so much from last year and I’m excited for their hunger and confidence to go up.”
Both teams appear to be ahead of schedule in just their programs’ second years of varsity.
Castaic displayed plenty of improvement after the team won just three games last year and struggled to get swings on the net. Now the team has several options for setter Dunstan Loego.
Trinity will also look to improve after last year’s two-win season. Hastings just wanted to see his team show a steady improvement from last year and the coach believes the team is right on track for that mark.
“Our goal is to be better than last year and to be honest with you, I think we’re already going to do that,” Hastings said. “We only had two wins last year but my expectations are high.”
Trinity remains on the road this week and will head up to Desert Christian on Friday at 5 p.m. for its Heritage League opener.
The Coyotes have an interesting team with no seniors rostered but also no new players. The team consists entirely of returners, who will likely return again next year. Castaic will look to keep playing solid defense and improving throughout the season.
It will be another competitive year in the Foothill League but Castaic may have some of the pieces in play to surprise opposing teams.
Castaic will have a busy week of non-league play, continuing Wednesday at Paraclete at 6 p.m. The Coyotes then return home Friday to host Hueneme at 5:30 p.m.