RANCHO SANTA MARGARITA >> The Capistrano Valley Christian boys volleyball team swept Portola in three sets Saturday to advance to its second consecutive CIF-Southern Section championship game.
Capistrano Valley Christian (28-9) won its first ever championship last season in Division 6.
The Eagles beat Portola 25-22, 25-19, 25-16 at Tesoro High on Saturday afternoon to reach the Division 4 championship game.
The Eagles will face its San Joaquin League rival, St. Margaret’s, in the final on Saturday, May 14 at a site to be determined.
“Every year it’s a complete miracle. There’s so much that goes into it,” said second-year Eagles coach Ryan Van Rensselaer. “I never take it for granted. I’m just grateful and we are taking it one game at a time.”
The strategy for CVC on Saturday was simple: serve well to get Portola out of its offensive game plan.
CVC had four aces in the first set and the game plan was paying off.
“We knew who their threats were and our whole plan was to slow them down,” Van Rensselaer said. “Serving them tough and getting them out of system. Once we locked in and the nerves left, we started playing like that and took over.”
“That was fun to watch as a coach,” he added, “being like, ‘Oh, the strategy actually works.’ ”
Vanguard signee Andrew Sheveland was dominant serving and had three aces in the first set and several kills. Hawaii signee Kai Taylor was battling a shoulder injury, but was essential in the Eagles’ offense with his hitting and serving.
Taylor hadn’t been swinging recently and was battling the stomach flu earlier this week.
“That’s always how it happens. Every game you don’t know who you’re going to have or how it’s going to happen,” Van Rensselaer said. “I’m so proud of Andrew and Kai. They’ve both done an incredible job carrying these guys and keeping things positive.”
Blake Sheveland also had a great game with a handful of kills and much of CVC’s offense was set up by setter Max Stegelvik.
Portola (24-11) was the third-place team in the Pacific Coast League this season. The Bulldogs beat CVC’s league foe, Pacifica Christian, in five sets in the quarterfinals.
The Bulldogs’ two top scorers, Kian Wojtowich and Eugene Jung, were effective and Noah Luper had a handful of blocks.
The game was moved to Tesoro High at Portola’s request due to the expected crowd being larger than the capacity at CVC’s home gym.
CVC won both league matches against St. Margaret’s this season, but the last match went to five sets.
St. Margaret’s defeated Millikan of Long Beach in the other semifinal, 23-25, 25-19, 18-25, 25-21, 15-13.
“It would be awesome to play St. Margaret’s,” Van Rensselaer said after beating Portola. “They are a really great team and Coach (Bob) Yoder is phenomenal.”