Millikan Volleyball Wilson

Boys’ Volleyball: Wilson Claims League Title With Win Over Millikan

The562’s coverage of high school volleyball in 2023 is brought to you by the MLP’s Bay Area Breakers.

The562’s coverage of Long Beach Wilson Athletics is sponsored by Joel Bitonio, Class of 2009.

The562’s coverage of Millikan athletics in the 2023-24 school year is sponsored by Curtis Boyer.

The Wilson Bruins all but clinched their Moore League championship at home on Thursday, overcoming a sloppy first set before beating Millikan in four, 20-25, 25-23, 25-15, 25-18.

Wilson celebrated an emotional senior night before the start of the game, which assistant coach Jeff Ecevedo said may have led to their sluggish start in the first set. The Bruins led just once in the period, giving up a handful of errors in an uncharacteristic 20-25 set.

“I think it was just because of the senior night, everyone having their type of emotions with this being their last home game of the season,” said Ecevedo, filling in for head coach Chris Ceballos who’s on a trip for club volleyball. “So in the big crowd I think once the butterflies came out and our stars settled in, that’s when everything started locking in for these guys to start performing.”

That’s when seniors Ian Nolte and Will Morrison began to take over from the outside, piling on a combined 30 kills in the Bruins win. The pair both contributed four kills in the second set, in which Nolte said his team was able to start rebuilding their confidence.

“It was a little bit of nerves and we never really came out with the confidence that we needed,” Nolte said. “We realized we needed to bring it together as a team and play with confidence, and it was about knowing that we are that team that can win these big matches.”

The Bruins put together a much cleaner performance in an even second set, with the biggest lead being just three points. The Bruins were able to score three consecutive points including back-to-back blocks from Marek Turner and Nolte to win the set, 25-23.

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As Wilson seemed to pick up some steam, the Millikan offense began to struggle throughout the third set. Nolte and Morrison added five kills each in the set, as the Bruins jumped out to a quick 7-2 lead which caused Millikan coach Matthew Johnson to call timeout.

“We had the energy, we had the drive, but it felt more like a little loss of faith in what they can do and when you play on your heels you’re in trouble,” said Johnson. “It looked like after a point or two after it didn’t go their way they just started doubting instead of just playing confidently. Then when they got on a little run we just couldn’t stick with it.”

Wilson was able to keep their momentum going in through the midst of the third set to take the period, 25-15.

“I think the change had to do a lot with our defense,” credited Ecevedo. “Once we started passing well and playing full defense everything started coming full circle where these guys were starting to perform to their potential.”

The Bruins continued their momentum through a clean fourth set before winning it, 20-25, 25-23, 25-15, 25-18. 

Shayne Galura spread the ball around for the Bruins racking up 35 assists. Morrison contributed 14 kills, meanwhile Nolte finished with a game-high 16 kills.

“They’re always gonna be there and their leadership is always gonna mean a lot to this team. You’ll see it when you talk to Ian, he’s already lost his voice and he’s really wanted this. He’s been hungry for it,” said Ecevedo.

“It was just amazing,” added Nolte. “It’s a lot of fun playing with these guys. It’s been an amazing journey these past four years and I gotta be proud of what we’ve done, of this team and what I’m leaving behind. It’s something special, and you don’t get this at a lot of high schools.I’m really happy about it.”

The Bruins are on their way to a fourth consecutive Moore League championship with one week remaining in the regular season. The CIF-SS playoff brackets will be released on Saturday, April 20.

VIDEO: Wilson vs. Millikan, Boys’ Volleyball
PHOTOS: Wilson vs. Millikan, Boys’ Volleyball
Eli Aquino
Eli Aquino is a high school student with plenty of writing and technology skills. He has a healthy knowledge and passion for sports and looks to take on journalism as a future career.