BELLARMINE-JEFFERSON HIGH — Both the San Marino High and Bellarmine-Jefferson boys' volleyball teams were reeling from injury problems when they met Thursday for a nonleague match.
The Titans were missing senior all-league first-team setter John Silk, who sustained an injury to his shoulder that required surgery.
The Guards were without two key players, one who broke his foot and another who suffered a broken tailbone. To make matters worse, another Bell-Jeff player was missing because of a prior academic commitment and another starter was sidelined Thursday afar sustaining an ankle injury late in the contest, leaving the Guards with no substitutes.
San Marino was able to put aside its hardship and played well against the host Guards, rolling to a 25-14, 25-18, 25-17 victory.
"We have a lot of new players in new positions," San Marino Coach Mariana Montes said. "Since we lost our setter we have had to switch some players into positions they haven't played. [Silk] has been on the team since he was a sophomore setting, and not having him in there really changed the dynamic of the team.
"But even without him the other guys have stepped it up."
Like the Titans (2-1), the Guards (1-4) failed to qualify for the CIF Southern Section playoffs last season. Although Bell-Jeff Coach Miguel Segura knew he was going to field a young team with not a lot of volleyball experience, he was optimistic about the prospects of the season.
Then the injuries hit.
"The important position that we thought we had covered was libero, then he broke his tailbone a week and a half ago," Segura said. "We were just learning to work without him when we have to deal with our starting setter, who is missing because of a robotics fair. We already had a new lineup when my middle goes down in the third game. It's a pretty tough season."
At this point in the season, one would expect the Guards to have the fundamentals pretty down pat. However, Segura said he is still having to do a great deal of teaching.
"Fundamentals," he said. "All we're working on now is fundamentals. We have some guys who have a big desire to win, they just don't know how to put it all together."
Bell-Jeff wasn't able to generate a great deal of offense against the Titans, as Ignacio Cabrera and Nikola Novakovic both finished with five kills each.
For San Marino, Vincent Ma led the way with nine kills and Andrew Boon added six. Teammate Daniel Chee had 16 assists, Kevin Lai had 10 assists and Chris Quon had five aces.
Ma said his squad has been getting over the fact that their starting setter is lost for the season.
"We've adapted really well, it's that we just lost a lot of energy when he went out," he said. "[Silk] was always laughing and smiling on the court, and we miss that."
San Marino took advantage of 13 unforced Bell-Jeff errors to win the first game. The Guards enjoyed an early 4-3 lead, but that advantage was short-lived. The Titans wrestled control of the match back and built up a sizable lead.
The Guards played better in the second game. Bell-Jeff had the lead, 8-7, before the Titans came on to surge out in front. The Guards also came back, tying the score at 11. But San Marino pushed ahead once more and ended the game on a 14-7 run.
The Titans never trailed in the third game, as 14 unforced errors by the Guards sealed their fate.
"This is a really good core group of kids who have a lot of positive attitude and who are working to get what they want," Montes said.