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Avalon Volleyball

CIF Boys’ Volleyball: Avalon’s Historic Season Ends In Championship Loss

The562’s coverage of high school volleyball in 2023-2024 is brought to you by the MLP’s Bay Area Breakers.

The562’s coverage of Avalon Athletics is sponsored by Curtin Maritime.

It was a bittersweet finish to a historic playoff run for Avalon boys’ volleyball on Saturday as the Lancers played in their first ever CIF Southern Section championship game but lost the Division 7 final by getting swept at Ontario Christian 25-12, 25-16, 25-17.

“I am super proud of these kids,” Avalon coach Carlos Martinez said. “To be able to develop a program that kids believe in, and kids want to be better in, and to get to this moment means everything.”

Avalon opened the match by scoring the first point with a rowdy, loud support group behind them that made the trip from Catalina. However, jitters and nerves got the best of both teams early as miscues and miscommunications allowed for some easy points.

Ontario Christian used home court advantage to bring some momentum and pulled away slowly after reaching ten points. Avalon’s sophomore Erick Madriz kept the Lancers in it until the Knights defense keyed a run that led to a 25-12 set win.

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A few early mental mistakes gave Ontario Christian an early lead in the second set, but Avalon’s Jacob Mello limited the Knights’ lead. With coach Martinez taking on a more hands-on,  direct leadership approach in the second set, the Lancers found life to keep Ontario Christian on their toes. However, the ball couldn’t bounce the Lancers way off the block, and the Knights would soon pull away again. Ontario Christian took the second set 25-16.

“We were putting the ball away, but we were just not defensively ready [every play] like [Ontario Christian,” Martinez said.

With their backs against the wall and their crowd on their feet, the Lancers’ came out and looked their best in the third set. Mello found the hot hand early, and Avalon kept feeding it to him. However, the Knights’ offense kept striking Avalon’s defensive gaps. The Lancers would not go down without a fight, as they kept finding ways to score or force Ontario Christian into mistakes. Despite their resilience, Ontario Christian would win the third set and match 25-17 to complete the sweep.

Despite the loss, Martinez is optimistic for the program’s future. Only losing two players to graduation, the Lancers are returning a strong, gritty, and seasoned group. 

“The way [the players] fought all season, went to the playoffs, got knocked out last year in the first round, and to come back and make it all the way to the finals,” Martinez said. “I am so proud of them, and I cannot wait for next year. We will be back.”

Sean Kenneally
Born and raised in Los Alamitos, Sean Kenneally started covering football his senior year at Los Alamitos High School in 2018. Sean is a recent Sonoma State University graduate, where he continued to cover sports during his academic career. Outside of the classroom, Sean was a four year member of the Sonoma State Men’s Lacrosse team, and he participated in the Surfrider Foundation.