A season that exceeded all expectations came to an end on Wednesday, May 3 for Trinity Knights boys’ volleyball.
The Knights reached the CIF Division 6 quarterfinals, where they were taken down on the road in four sets to the top-seeded Leuzinger Olympians.
Leuzinger won the match 28-26, 25-18, 23-25, 25-21.
Trinity coach Dan Hastings saw his team be right there with the top dog in the division, but just fell short of a colossal upset.
“We knew they were the one-seed for a reason,” Hastings said in a phone interview. “The CIF and people have looked at them and seen they’re one of the best teams in the division, and they showed they were. We were the eighth seed, but I can’t complain about the performance, we played great.”
The Knights (12-7-4) nearly stole the opening set and won a tightly contested third set.
“When we won the third set, it solidified that we could do this,” Hastings said. “The first two sets we kept losing by just a little. It’s defeating but I’m proud of the guys. They took the attitude of fighting, and they were there to play the one-seed. They did the best they could. We won with class and lost with class.”
Outside hitters Mario Bethke and Jed Browning did all they could, again adding big numbers for the Knights. The two combined for over 40 kills while each served well in Bethke’s high school finale. Browning, a junior, also displayed his passing and finished with several key digs.
Bethke’s sole year at Trinity was a success as he was a pivotal member of the team and culture for the program’s future.
“Mario came in and he was such a talented big hitter,” Hastings said. “He really changed not only the level of our play, but also the attitude that we can now win.”
The Trinity outsides hammered away on the net while freshman middle blocker Skyler Hillemann added some big swings, but the Olympian back row didn’t make many mistakes on defense.
“Leuzinger was by far the best passing team we’ve played this season,” Hastings said. “But, getting to the CIF quarterfinals in our second year of our program, taking second place in league, I just couldn’t be prouder.”
Trinity has soared past expectations from earlier this season. The program had guys just learning how to play the sport last season and finished with just two wins. Now one year later, the team finishes the year well above .500, deep in the playoffs and ranked eighth in Division 6.
“I couldn’t imagine anything like this,” Hastings said. “We won two games last year and now we’re second in league. Last year, we were trying to learn how to play the sport, but now we have a program.”
The Knights program entailed a varsity and JV team with 22 total players for the 2023 season and Hastings is expecting those numbers to rise.
The team will graduate Bethke along with both setters in David Lim and Noah Estanol. There will be some big shoes to fill just like any program but after a breakout year like this one, Knights boys’ volleyball could be embarking on something great.
“I think that the future is really bright if we can keep moving forward,” Hastings said. “I know we have some players coming up from JV and incoming freshmen that are excited to play volleyball. I think we’ll be a contender in league next year.”