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Mater Dei boys volleyball tops Servite to stay unbeaten in league

SANTA ANA >> The Mater Dei boys volleyball team took poll position in the Trinity League by beating Servite in four sets Friday at Mater Dei High.

The Monarchs (14-3, 4-0) beat the second-place Friars, 25-11, 25-27, 25-22, 25-20.

Mater Dei, which is ranked No. 3 in the nation and No. 2 in the state by MaxPreps, communicated effectively and brought its “A” game for much of the match.

“It’s easy to fall victim to the hype and take teams lightly, but these kids did a good job knowing that Servite is the real deal,” Mater Dei coach Jake Nuneviller said. “They came out with fire and discipline and if they had not done that the result could have been different.”

Servite (14-8, 3-1) had only lost one set in league play entering Friday. The Friars are ranked No. 9 in the CIF-SS Division 1 poll.

Mater Dei could do no wrong in the first set. Zach Berty, younger brother of former Gatorade state player of the year Natalie Berty, had three aces in the first set and Matthew Thornton got an ace to end the set.

“It was a rivalry game and we came out hot,” Nuneviller said. “There is a reason I didn’t pull one starter and didn’t change the lineup going into set two. It was one of those sets where we couldn’t do anything wrong.”

Servite recovered in the second set and started to find holes in the Mater Dei defense. Christian Aguilar had a big block late in the set which ignited the Servite crowd and bench. Mitch Balistier got a kill to give the Friars the lead and Mater Dei hit a shot long to end the set.

Mater Dei regained its stroke in the third set. Outside hitter Eli McGhee and middle blocker Sean McNaughton played well in the set and the latter got the final point to give the Monarchs a 2-1 lead.

Servite took a five-point lead in the fourth set which prompted a Mater Dei timeout. The Monarchs recovered from there and went on a run to win the set and match.

“We just talked about siding out efficiently and earning one off our serve, which is what we did the rest of the set,” Nuneviller said. “We sometimes fall into the idea that we need to make up five points right now. We just started chipping away at the lead one point at a time.”

McGhee had a game-high 18 kills for the Monarchs and an ace. Nuneviller said McGhee is one of the best sophomores in the country.

“He is an animal. I am thrilled to have him for another two years after this,” Nuneviller said. “I think he can stand toe-to-toe with anyone in the country, and that’s saying a lot because I think it’s the best sophomore class I’ve seen in 10 years. What he’s doing right now is incredible.”

Cole Schobel had seven kills for the Monarchs and libero JJ Sawa was critical in keeping plays alive for Mater Dei.



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