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Reserves get chance to close out WAC match for Lathrop
Los Banos-Lathrop boys volleyball
Lathrop’s Javen Ceralde reaches for a dig. - photo by SEAN KAHLER

After breezing through the first two sets with visiting Los Banos Tuesday night 25-15, 25-15, Lathrop coach Toa Fa’ali’i went to his bench in the third set.

After seven lead changes and four ties, the Spartans escaped with a 25-23 win to sweep the Tigers in boys Western Athletic Conference action.

“I try to have a deep roster,” Fa’ali’i said. “Even the bench is good, and I think that the second string should be better than the opposition.

“So, that’s what I’m trying to do. I want to have a deep roster going deep into the season.”

Jerico Santillan led Lathrop (6-0 WAC, 11-3 overall) with 10 kills, 10 service points, six aces and four digs. With the Spartans at match point in the first set, Santillan’s attempt at a kill got stuffed back at him, keeping the Tigers (3-3, 4-13) alive.

The next point was shaping up for a repeat of the last. Often in these situations, the hitter will choose to dink the ball over the net, but not Santillan. He wound up and slammed the ball onto the Los Banos floor to give the Spartans the first set, 25-15.

“I just think it’s a mindset,” Santillan said. “I have been playing this game a long time and it is really important to play for the very next point. I think that’s what keeps me going.”

Lathrop’s Lucas Baluyut flew all over the court, posting 28 digs along with two aces and eight service points.

“When I see my name up there in the national rankings (for digs) I want to try and do what it takes to stay up there,” Baluyut said. “Sometimes it is a down fall for me, but I try and take every ball I can.”

Gabriel Fa’ali’i made 9 kills, three aces, three service points and four digs for the Spartans. With Lathrop trailing 21-20 in the third set, he and Santillan took the court for the first time in the game. Santillan promptly got a pair of kills to put Lathrop ahead for good. Alexander Vere tallied an ace and Javen Ceralde got a kill with those points sandwiched around a pair of Spartans service errors to draw Los Banos within 24-23.

Gabriel Fa’ali’i promptly slammed the door with a kill to ensure the sweep for Lathrop.

“I was thinking we needed to get this game over with,” Gabriel Fa’ali’i said. “I just wanted to try and finish it out.”

Alexander Vere dished out 28 assists for the Spartans.

Lathrop hosts East Union on Friday at 6:30 in a non-league contest.


Junior varsity

Lathrop 2, Los Banos 0

John Calimlin led the Spartans to a 25-12, 25-20 sweep.

Calimlin put up four aces, four digs and 24 assists.

Jorge Reyes (21 assists), Persius Fa’ali’i (five digs, kill), Justin Alvarez (three aces, four kills) and Edmund Balugo (six digs) rounded out the Lathrop attack.