Cathedral Catholic takes open crown in men’s volleyball

Thirty-one years ago, Cathedral Catholic High won a San Diego chapter championship in men’s volleyball.

In this team was Patrick Bonner.

Now manager of the Dons, Bonner has marveled at how his top-ranked side have run throughout the season, losing just four times in 30 outings.

The final victory came on Saturday May 14, as the Dons gave up the first set but rallied to win the next three sets for a 21-25, 25-12, 25-18, 25-23 win over the No. 6 Westview at the Open. Division Finals at Mission Hills High.

“That was the plan,” Dons senior Patrick Buckel said. “I wasn’t even going to play this season until my uncle Marc Buckel passed away and I played the season for him.

“I don’t play in college, so this is my last volleyball season with only a handful of playoffs.”

But Buckel and his teammates start as the undisputed best team in the county with a 26-4 record thanks to the victory of their 13th consecutive game.

“It’s a luxury to be good at every position,” Bonner said. “They are all experienced at a high level of play.

“To have won a CIF as a senior at (University) and then coaching the Dons to a (title) this year is a great experience.”

Westview (22-13), who defeated Sage Creek in Thursday’s much-needed match, never trailed to win the first set against the Dons behind Luke Forster’s six kills.

But the Wolverines fought the odds in the final three sets, briefly leading only twice in those sets.

“We came into this final super cocky,” said Buckel, who had 25 kills and three blocks in the game. “It is sobering that this is happening when we know we are the best team.

“We have had ups and downs this year. We knew what defeat looked like and we didn’t want it to happen today.

“Those last three sets felt more like us, the way we’re supposed to play, and that’s how we plan to play in the state tournament.”

Cathedral and Westview, along with Sage Creek and Torrey Pines, qualify for the state tournament which begins this week.

Buckel had plenty of help on offense with Mathew Poindexter recording 12 kills to go with five blocks. Dominick Engels also had nine kills, three blocks and three aces.

Caden Sajnog led the Wolverines with 14 kills and three blocks, followed by Forster’s 13 kills and a block.

“I’m super happy with how this last season has gone,” Buckel said. “I wouldn’t change that for the world.”

Or fail to win a sectional championship.

Section II

Madison 3, El Camino 1: In a match with 14 lead changes and a tied score 31 times, Madison survived long enough to win another San Diego Section Championship thanks to a 25-22, 25-18, 19 -25, 25-23 on the Wildcats.

The 16th straight win puts the No. 2-seeded Warhawks (32-3) in the state tournament. But it wasn’t easy for the Eastern League champions, who suffered a loss to El Camino on March 5.

Senior Cole Hauser kept Madison from losing her grip on the momentum with 16 kills and four blocks. Nate Valverde added seven kills.

El Camino (29-10) got 19 kills from Tripler Letuligasenoa and 12 kills from Jayden Tua.

Madison is now 13-3 on neutral courts.

Section III

Grossmont 3, Morse 0: The No. 2-seeded Foothillers outlasted the top-seeded Tigers in every set, claiming the San Diego Section Championship with a 26-24, 29-27, 25 victory -19.

The win left Grossmont (21-8) 6-5 on neutral courts this season.

The Foothillers escaped in the first set scoring the final three points, but the score was tied 16 times and the lead changed hands nine times in the second set.

Joshua Do led the winners with 13 eliminations, followed by Jackson Robbins and Cole Barrett with nine eliminations each.

Morse (26-9), the Division V champion last year, had 16 kills from Jeremy Pineda, eight kills from Jan Kirby and seven kills from Machado Mathu.

Monahan is a freelance writer.

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