When the Cypress High boys volleyball team lost in the CIF-SS semifinals last year, it served as enough motivation for the Centurions heading into this year. The Centurions won the Empire League title with a 10-0 record and were the No. 1 ranked team in the division in the final CIF-SS poll.
That ranking proved accurate as the Centurions rolled through the playoffs, losing just one set to reach the CIF-SS Division 4 championship on Saturday. And the Centurions’ determination continued as they swept away Bishop Montgomery, 25-23, 25-12, 25-21, to win the CIF-SS title at Cerritos College.
“It feels amazing right now, I feel, oh man, I can’t explain it, honestly,” senior setter Chris Cons said.
After edging the Knights in a close first set, the Centurions dominated the second set to take a commanding 2-0 set lead. With a couple of big defenders on the front line for Bishop Montgomery, Cypress planned to change up their attack. “We really managed to spread our offense well. We would run the outside and then they would block the outside and we would run the middle,” Chris Cons said.
Senior outside hitter Erik Papke led the Centurion attack with 19 kills and senior opposite hitter Andrew Farmer had 10 kills. Senior opposite hitter Kyle Farmer had 7 kills, while junior Robert Fleming and senior Ezekiel Vaielua each had five kills. Papke had 14 digs and Kyle Farmer added 10 digs.
Cons had 42 assists and eight digs. Passing and ball control was a key reason that the Centurions were able to control the match, Papke said.
“Ball control and just keeping the ball in and making as few mistakes on our side as possible, [we] let them make the mistakes,” Erik Papke said.
In the third set, the Centurions fell behind 4-0 before battling back to take an 8-6 lead. The set went back and forth, eventually getting tied 10-10. Cypress had back to back kills from Andrew Farmer, followed by a block for appoint by Andrew Farmer and Robert Fleming to give Cypress a 13-11 lead.
But Bishop Montgomery had a run of their own, going on a 7-2 run to take an 18-15 lead. Bishop Montgomery would then take a 21-19 lead before the Centurions clamped down to close out the match. After a net violation by the Knights, Kyle Farmer tied the set at 21-21 with a tap hit to the middle of the court. Fleming followed that with a block in the middle to give Cypress a 22-21 lead.
Andrew Farmer tapped a hit to the back line to extend the lead to 23-21. Bishop Montgomery then misplayed a pass and hit a shot long, closing out the match for Cypress. The Centurions advanced to the Division 2 State Tournament and opened with a home match against Otay Ranch on Tuesday. The score was not available by press time.
This article appeared in the May 24, 2017 print edition of the News Enterprise.