The Harvard-Westlake High boys’ volleyball team, in the middle of the spring holiday, traveled to play Crespi on Tuesday night in a Mission League match and took a vacation in the early going.
“I think they were mentally on spring break a little bit,” Coach Jess Quiroz said of his team’s early play. “We started super slow.”
But the Wolverines regrouped after dropping the first two games and rallied for a 13-15, 11-15, 15-10, 15-6, 15-7 victory.
Harvard-Westlake (6-0, 6-0 in league play) joined the Mission League along with Loyola this season. Crespi (5-2, 3-2) is the two-time defending champion but has lost both of its matches to the Wolverines and Cubs.
Early on against Harvard-Westlake, though, a Celt victory looked imminent.
Senior Mike Lees, who already has signed with Cal State Northridge, was the focal point of the Celts’ attack and dominated play in the first two games, registering 13 kills and four blocks.
But after that game, the 6-foot-6 outside hitter played a diminished role.
“For some reason, they didn’t go to him as much,” Quiroz said.
And the momentum went directly to the Wolverines. With their lineup of six juniors starting to mesh, they built a 12-7 lead in the third game and held on to win, 15-10.
Crespi had played confidently to that point but fell apart in the fourth game, falling behind, 13-1, amid a deluge of hitting errors, poor passing, and mistakes.
Harvard’s defense rendered the outside hitting duo of Lees and Bill Rojas ineffective, getting a hand on their spikes and routinely digging their hits.
Outside hitters Kiefer and Matt Sebree spearheaded the Wolverines’ resurgent attack.
Sebree touched the ball only twice in the first game but came alive and finished with 20 kills. Kiefer had 21.
“It took us a while to really get Matt Sebree going,” Quiroz said. “When you have a player of his caliber and you don’t get him involved, things can really fall down.”
Harvard-Westlake won the game, 15-6, and Crespi had let a 2-0 lead slip away.
In the fifth game, the teams were tied, 5-5, but the Celts’ play again became ragged, and the Wolverines reeled off eight points to lead, 13-5.
Doug Park and Seth Rodsky were instrumental in controlling the net and Park, who had 17 kills, finished the match with a spike.
A smiling Sebree embraced Quiroz after the match, saying, “This one felt so good!”
It just took a while.