There was no Hollywood ending for outside hitter Kylan Chandler in his final act with the Manteca High boys volleyball team, but he’s proud of all that he and the Buffaloes — and the rest of the Valley Oak League, for that matter — accomplished in the last two years.
Chandler, now an aspiring actor, is once again the Manteca Bulletin All-Area MVP.
“All in all, I had a memorable two years of playing high school volleyball,” Chandler said. “Being able to play at all was the dream for me.”
Boys have been playing volleyball in the Sac-Joaquin Section in the past few decades, but mostly for Sacramento-area schools. The first SJS playoffs were held in 2009.
The sport has spurted in the southern half of the section of late, and Chandler played a part in it. An experienced club player, Chandler lobbied for Manteca Unified to allow its five high schools to begin boys volleyball teams, and VOL had its inaugural season in 2017.
Manteca captured the first two VOL championships with Chandler cast as its lead. The Buffaloes have yet to lose a league match, advanced to the second round of the playoffs each year and are 36-7 overall under head coach Kevin Bolding. Chandler was named to the All-VOL first team in 2017 and is the reigning league MVP.
The team overcame its lack of experience with team chemistry and a winning culture already developed through other sports.
“Everybody on the team is competitive,” Chandler said. “Every day in practice it was a competition. It was still fun and exciting, but it was always ‘how man I going to get better than the next guy.’
“Coming from winning teams, they still expect to win. And when volleyball came around we still expected to win and did that.”
Chandler also gave kudos to league rivals. Lathrop and East Union were among the bottom teams in the inaugural VOL season, but both enjoyed turnaround 2018 campaigns in which they gave the Buffaloes’ a stiff challenge and joined them in the playoffs.
Manteca clinched another undefeated season at East Union’s Dalben Center but had to work for it in the emotional five-game thriller. It was just one of two matches that the Buffaloes were taken to a fifth set this past season.
“East Union came out hard this year and changed a lot,” Chandler said. “A lot of their guys I did not even recognize, but they seemed more determined. They had a nothing-to-lose mentality and that’s what really made it harder for us to win against them.
“Every team in league was a little bit better than they were last year. It makes the league more competitive, and maybe soon someone from the VOL wins a section title. Of course I’d like for Manteca High to do it, but I’ll be happy for any VOL team that does.”
Up to Division II for the SJS playoffs, sixth-seeded Manteca vanquished No. 11 Patterson in four games before facing No. 3 Placer in Auburn. It was there that Chandler’s volleyball career ended, as the Hillmen rolled, 25-12, 20-25, 25-19, 25-14. He contributed 12 kills, 10 digs and three blocks.
“You never want to give up on a game, but halfway through the fourth game you can tell it was about that time,” Chandler said. “Things were coming to a close, and we were not playing as well as we normally do. We just decided to play as hard as we can until we were done.
“It didn’t truly set in until after that match and the next day when we were not getting ready for practice. It was strange.”
Exit stage left.
Chandler had a chance to continue playing for a college on the East Coast but decided to stay closer to home and focus on another passion — acting. He is already at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in Los Angeles. Classes began last week.
Chandler auditioned in January and was accepted by AMDA before visiting the campus in April.
“I looked at my options and thought about what I really wanted to do for the rest of my life,” Chandler said. “I’d be playing (Division II) at best in volleyball, but I still wanted to be doing something that I love at the highest level that I could and that’s what came into play.”
OH Cade Alger, Ripon Christian, Jr.
OH Andrew Vander Weide, Ripon Christian, Sr.
OH Tyler Riggleman, Lathrop, Jr.
MB Cameron Reis, Manteca, Sr.
S Jonathan Borres, Manteca, Sr.
DS Joseph Borres, Manteca, Sr.