ANAHEIM >> Servite volleyball coach Matthew Marrujo said his team’s chemistry is as strong as it’s been all season and the cohesion has been reflected in the scores of the Friars’ playoff matches.
Top-seeded Servite swept No. 9 Canyon, 25-20, 25-18, 25-19, in a CIF SS Division 2 quarterfinal Wednesday at Servite High School.
Servite (26-10) will play at Thousand Oaks in the semifinals Saturday. The Lancers swept St. Francis in a quarterfinal Wednesday.
The Friars have lost only one set through three playoff matches and are advancing to the division semifinals for the third time in Marrujo’s 13-year tenure as head coach.
Servite has never advanced to a division final.
After winning their final Trinity League contest, a 3-0 sweep of St. John Bosco on April 13, the Friars traveled to San Jose to play in a tournament.
The Friars finished third in the tournament, but the real reason Marrujo scheduled the trip was for the team to bond.
“I think that (trip) really helped bring us together and kind of gave us a real common goal,” Marrujo said. “The focus was to bring us together as a team. I think the guys are playing really well together.”
To Marrujo’s point, the scoring for Servite was evenly distributed amongst several players.
Senior blocker Christian Aguilar led the Friars with 10 kills and two blocks, senior outside hitter Josef Mitts had nine kills and sophomore Amon Rigdon had six kills. Riley Rosenkranz and Mitch Balistrarie finished with five kills each.
Tyler Howard and Brady Reindl finished with nine and eight kills, respectively, for the Comanches (19-4).
The first set started out close, but after consecutive kills by Rigdon gave Servite a 14-11 lead, the Friars never looked back.
Canyon coach Matt Silva said his team’s best chance came in the second set, when a block and a kill from Zachary Faryniarz helped the Comanches jump out to a 5-2 lead.
The score was tied twice after that, but after Aguilar’s kill gave Servite a 10-9 lead, the Friars maintained the lead and pulled away with a 7-3 run to close out the set.
The Friars went on a 9-1 run early in the third set and pulled ahead by seven, which was too many points to make up for the Comanches.
Silva said Servite’s defense was the main difference in the match.
“Those guys (the Friars) were just digging out of control,” Silva said. “I just felt like nothing hit the floor without five or six guys diving after it. It was like blood, sweat and tears just to get one point.”