An up-and-down Saturday at the Bellflower tournament ended with a silver division consolation championship for the Castaic Coyotes boys’ volleyball team.
The Coyotes began their 12-hour day on a three-match losing streak before heading to the consolation bracket. However, once the team reached the consolation side, Castaic turned it on and won out to take the consolation bracket championship.
Castaic was swept in its opening matches by Bellflower and Los Altos. The Coyotes then forced a decisive third set against the Whitney Wildcats but fell just before being bumped to the consolation bracket at Gahr High School.
The Coyotes played close in most of their matches. Bellflower bested the Coyotes 25-20, 25-21. Whitney won the three-set match with scores of 25-18, 21-25, 15-10.
Coyotes head coach David Chae has seen his team play well during spurts this season. However, early Saturday morning was not one of those moments.
“We were hardly awake,” Chae said. “No one was really responding and we weren’t reacting really well.”
Castaic was without starting setter Dunstan Loego and starting middle blockers Sonny Cullen and Connor Whitlach, for the day. The Coyotes being down three starters and losing three straight would be enough to lead most teams to quit for the day. However, something snapped in the team once they reached the second slate of matches.
The Coyotes competed in one-set matches in the consolation bracket and didn’t disappoint. Castaic beat Damien 25-18, Lynwood 25-21 and San Pedro 25-18 to reach the Silver Division championship, a rematch with Whitney.
The consolation championship was a best-of-three match and after going three sets in round one, these two teams needed a trio of sets to decide a winner once again.
The Wildcats took the first set but Castaic stood tall and won out to secure the championship. The Coyotes won the match 21-25, 25-18, 15-9.
Chae saw his opposite hitter Riley Humphrey and middle blocker Quinn Broadwater step up in the later games.
Humphrey was all over the court and finished with 12 kills, three blocks and two aces. Broadwater played solid in the middle and tallied seven kills and three blocks.
Setter Everett Krenz was asked to step up in Loego’s absence and finally got in sync with his hitters in the late-game window. Krenz racked up 25 assists in the championship match.
The up-and-down day defines the season well for the Coyotes (9-13, 0-2).
“A lot of it was we were good in spurts,” Chae said. “If you look at our Golden Valley scores, we were good for a period of time but then we hit a snag in our rotation. That’s what happened during our morning, but during the afternoon we were able to maintain consistency.”
The Coyotes also competed in the Venice Tournament the weekend before with a similar story. The team entered the 10-team Bronze Division and went to the finals. Castaic played in nine matches in two days but fell in the finals to Los Angeles CES.
Nine wins already is a huge leap from last year for the young program. Chae has seen greatness in his team’s positive spurts and hopes to see the offense keep steadily improving.
“They can definitely be great,” Chae said. “We’re getting better. Offensively we are still inconsistent and that’s where our inconsistent scores come from. We’re still young and learning the game but we’re turning a corner.”
The team is made up entirely of juniors, who all returned from last year’s team and will likely do so again next season. The program is still in search of its first league win and is aiming for that mark this season.
Castaic will be off for a week after back-to-back weekend tournaments. The Bellflower tournament was certainly a confidence booster. Castaic hits the road Monday for a match at Glendale before returning to league play Tuesday in a home matchup with West Ranch.
Chae will have his next crack at the first league win against the Wildcats at 5:30 p.m. The head coach is hoping for more wins to come soon but this season is all about getting some respect.
“I’m hoping we can pull off a few wins in league this season but either way I think we’ll be respected,” Chae said.