Falcons repeat NorCal title, avenging CCS loss to PCS

May 30, 2017 — by Karen Chow

After a hard fought season, the Falcons defended their NorCal title last Saturday against Pacific Collegiate School (PCS), a charter school in Santa Cruz that had edged them out in five sets for the CCS title earlier in the month.

Having previously lost to PCS, head coach Jason Cardoso made sure his team’s blocking defense was strong and decided to switch up his starting line-up to throw the Pumas off guard.

“The strategy was to stop their middle attack,” said Cardoso of the game played at Dublin High School. “I tried to make sure our middles got up to block quicker and not be caught watching.”

With the improved blocking defense and the line-up change, star outside hitter senior Joel Schneidmiller was able to get more kills because PCS blockers were now not only focusing on him, but also trying to break through defense and dealing with powerful hits from sophomore opposite Joshua Li, a player who had been brought up from the JV team to balance the Falcons’ attach. Li had a total of 14 kills, second only to Schneidmiller, who totalled 33 kills.

With PCS concentrating on stopping Schneidmiller, Li had many opportunities to hit the ball, ultimately leading the Falcons to win the match 3-1. Li led the offense in the first set with his strong opposite hits and junior middle Harrison Fong led the defense with his quick blocks, winning 25-19. However, in the second set, Schneidmiller was free to score as PCS blockers turned to focus on Li, allowing the Falcons to win 25-21. In the third set they fell short 25-21 because PCS was catching on to their strategy. The last game was also led by both Schneidmiller and Li’s strong hits,. The decisive game captured by the Falcons 25-19.

On May 25, the Falcons played Campolindo during the NorCal semifinal game. Though Campolindo was the second seed, the boys persevered and won in a tough 3-2 battle.

Schneidmiller led the team with his hard hits and great blocks. The Falcons came into the match strong, taking the first two sets 25-23 and 25-21, but fell short in the next two sets 25-16 and 27-25. Luckily for the Falcons, Schneidmiller was able to get through their defense, winning the last set 15-7.

The boys played Bentley High on May 23 in the NorCal quarterfinals, winning 3-1. The Falcons lost the first set 27-25, but regained their footing in the next two sets, winning 25-19 and 25-20. The game was led by great passes by sophomore outside Usman Khan and hard blocks by Schneidmiller.

The Falcons played Pacific Collegiate School (PCS), who they faced once again in the NorCal finals, on May 17 for the chance to defend their CCS title from 2016. The Falcons started off strong in the first set, winning 27-25, but were unable to get past PCS’s solid defense, losing the second set 20-25. The team won 25-23 with Schneidmiller’s hard hits in the third set but fell short in the last two sets, losing 25-17 and 15-12.

“The CCS game was really close, so we knew we could beat them,” Schneidmiller said. “I was pretty excited [to play them again] so we could get our revenge, which we did.”

In order to make it to the finals, the boys won 4-1 against Mount Madonna in the CCS semifinals on May 13. The boys’ victory against Junipero Serra High in the CCS quarterfinal match on May 11 also contributed to their momentum going into the final games of CCS after they won 3-2.