Eagles soar with upset boys’ volleyball win over Hilltop

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Granite Hills High School boys volleyball coach Pete Phillips likes the new competition-tiered structure of the San Diego Section playoffs. His Eagles have certainly performed admirably through the two opening rounds in the Division II field.

Fifth-seeded Granite Hills aced visiting 12th-seeded University City in three games in first-round play on May 12 and spiked host fourth-seeded Hilltop in four games Friday, May 15, in quarterfinal-round play.

Granite Hills High School boys volleyball coach Pete Phillips likes the new competition-tiered structure of the San Diego Section playoffs. His Eagles have certainly performed admirably through the two opening rounds in the Division II field.

Fifth-seeded Granite Hills aced visiting 12th-seeded University City in three games in first-round play on May 12 and spiked host fourth-seeded Hilltop in four games Friday, May 15, in quarterfinal-round play.

The Eagles (17-11) advance to meet top-seeded El Camino (25-9) in semifinal-round play on Tuesday, May 19. The winner advances to the division championship game Saturday, May 23, at 1 p.m. at Cathedral Catholic High School.

“I really like the new structure,” Phillips explained. “It gives all teams an opportunity to make the playoffs. The power ranking system seems fair to everyone and places teams in divisions where they belong. I really like the fact that we now have a true city champion (Open Division) drawn from both public and private schools.”

Junior middle blocker McCay Walker racked up 15 kills in the win over University City and tied teammate Trevor Neuenswander with 13 kills in the victory against Hilltop (21-9).

Noah Joubert tacked on 10 kills against Hilltop while Kamrin Higgins contributed 39 assists and Blake Roberts recorded 18 digs.

Walker, at six-foot-eight, and Neuenswander, at six-foot-six, towered over most of the host Lancers.

Granite Hills won the first game 25-18 to take a 1-0 lead. Hilltop then captured the second game 25-21 to even the match at a win apiece.

However, the Eagles won the next two games 25-22 and 25-17 to eliminate the higher-seeded Lancers.

Phillips attributed team chemistry as the spark that has driven his team to a 2-0 record so far in the playoffs.

“You see it at all levels in sports – you can have the best players but without that team chemistry it doesn’t matter,” the GHHS coach said. “These guys are like brothers. There’s no selfish player on the team.”

Norsemen prevail

Second-seeded Valhalla (19-8) joins Grossmont Conference rival Granite Hills in Tuesday’s Division II semifinals after dispatching 10th-seeded Santa Fe Christian (6-13) in three games in Friday’s quarterfinals.

The Norsemen, this year’s Grossmont Hills League champion, will host sixth-seeded Valley Center (17-14) in Tuesday’s semifinals after the Jaguars scored a five-game upset at third-seeded Bonita Vista (13-9) on Friday.

Regular season kill leaders for Valhalla included Cameron Hauseur (304) and Nate Moneda (168). Hauseur also lead the team with 59 serving aces while Jack Brady topped the squad with 700 assists and Robby Barnes collected 280 digs.

Three East County teams qualified for the Division II playoffs. Santana, last year’s Division IV champion, lost to Valley Center in the opening round of this year’s Division II playoffs. The Sultans ended their season 9-13.

Helix (25-11) received the No. 3 seed in this year’s Division III playoffs while two more East County squads also received playoff berths in the division. Christian (19-4) was seeded third while Grossmont Valley League champion West Hills (15-15) was seeded sixth.

El Capitan (8-6) saw its season come to an end with a loss in four games at top-seeded Castle Park in Division IV quarterfinal action on Friday, May 15. The ninth-seeded Vaqueros advanced with a 3-0 sweep against eighth-seeded Liberty Charter on May 13.

Grossmont qualified for the Division I playoffs but bowed out in first-round action at seventh-seeded Rancho Bernardo on May 12. The 10th-seeded Foothillers ended their season 15-15.

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