Wed11262014

Sports

Sizzling Spartans win 18th straight volleyball match


Photo By: Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Photo Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier Mountain View High’s Ryan McLaughlin goes up for the kill against Los Gatos last week.

M. Anthony Chen’s second season as Mountain View High boys volleyball coach has started even better than his first, and that’s no small feat.

The Spartans have surpassed last year’s 17-1 start, which was the best in program history, by winning their first 18 matches. Adding awe to accomplishment: Mountain View lost two key starters on last year’s team to graduation, including league MVP and kill leader Devin Stearns.

Not even Chen – who goes by MAC – could have predicted such a sizzling start.

“Is it a surprise? Maybe,” he said. “But I knew our hard work was going to pay off.”

The Spartans are well on their way to repeating as Santa Clara Valley Athletic League De Anza Division champs, starting 5-0. Mountain View beat second-place Monta Vista in five sets Friday.

Like they’ve done all season, the Spartans beat the host Matadors with a team effort; they don’t rely on one player to carry them.

“We’re balanced, and that was the design,” MAC said. “I’ve got four or five guys getting eight to 10 kills (per match).”

Four players reached double-digit kills Friday: Kurt Dentinger (17), Jake Stuebner (11), Alec Flowers (11) and Ryan McLaughlin, who added four aces.

Mountain View has depth, too.

“We have an eight- to nine-man rotation,” MAC said. “Out of (those players), six have led us in kills in one match or another.”

The 6-foot-2 Dentinger, who plays outside hitter and opposite hitter, is among the team’s kill leaders. A four-year starter and second-year team co-captain, Dentinger is “pretty much the glue that holds things together,” according to MAC.

Outside hitter Stuebner, a 6-3 junior and co-captain, has “improved leaps and bounds since last year,” MAC said. “He’s come up big for us.”

Another 6-3 junior, Logan Allen, ranks among Mountain View’s leaders in kills and assists.

“He came right out of soccer season and stepped right in,” said MAC, who noted that Allen was slowed by a soccer injury last year. “A healthy Logan is a good thing.”

Libero Collin Frietzche may be the Spartans’ most unheralded starter, but the coach considers the junior critical to the cause.

“All the other guys get the headlines,” MAC said, “but he’s pretty much our most consistent passer.”

Mountain View puts up a big block, starting a pair of 6-4 players in the middle. Returnee Alec McDonald, a senior, teams with Flowers, a junior new to varsity, at middle blocker.

“They’ve stepped up defensively,” MAC said.

The coach raved about the team chemistry – calling it “outstanding” – and said it should not be overlooked when assessing the Spartans’ success.

“They’re a great bunch of guys and selfless,” MAC said. “They don’t care who leads the team in kills in a match. They just love to play – they’re happy for each other and lift each other up.”

But can they lift Mountain View to its first Central Coast Section title? The Spartans reached the final in 2010 and bowed out in the semifinals the past two years, losing a close match to Bellarmine last season.

“Last year we came three points from the finals, so our motto since the start of the season is how to find those three points,” MAC said. “I think we can challenge for the league title and make a good CCS run – the sky’s the limit right now.”

For more photos of the Mountain View High School boys volleyball team, click here.

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