CERES — Tied midway through the second set in a contest that had seen 16 ties in the first two games, Jaden Vuong toed the service line for Lathrop and reeled off nine service points behind three aces. The Spartans won the set never trailed again in a 27-25, 25-17 25-19 Western Athletic Conference win over host Ceres in boys volleyball at Phil de la Porte Gym.
The sweep gives the Spartans their first-ever boys volleyball championship.
“Serving is a lot of practice,” Vuong said. “The coaches have given me a lot of help and taught me how to be aggressive.”
Gabriel Gutierrez was a monster at the net for Lathrop (9-0 WAC, 23-1 overall), racking up 18 kills and 13 digs along with two aces. Gutierrez hammered out nine kills in the highly-competitive first set that saw 12 ties and five lead changes including ties at 23, 24 and 25.
“I wouldn’t be anything if it wasn’t for my setter,” Gutierrez said. “And our defense has got a lot better since the beginning of the season. We have progressed every day — one percent better every day is out motto.
“This is a total team effort.”
R.J. Carmesis dished out 36 assists for the Spartans.
“This is really a team effort,” Carmesis said. “I am confident in my hitters and the passers do a good job of getting the ball to me.”
The Bulldogs dropped to 8-3, 17-9 with their only league losses coming to Lathrop.
The win marks a milestone for Spartans coach Heather Anderson.
“We have been working at this for years,” Anderson said. “And we finally got over the hump and are finishing the season strong.
“Ceres really challenged us. I told the guys they are a great team and great teams don’t give up and they fought us through all three matches.”
Along with Gutierrez, fellow senior Tyler Riggleman helped dominate the net with 11 kills, 13 digs and two aces. Classmates Mark Fabian had 14 digs, Adrian Corona tallied five kills and two blocks and Sergio Tapia chipped in three kills and an ace.
“I think that a lot of the credit goes to our seniors who were the charter members of the program two years back when it all got started,” Anderson said. “They work together in the offseason and they work well together as a team.
“They are a close-knit group and I think those seniors — we are graduating eight — have been the core of this team. All the credit goes to them.”
Lathrop 2, Ceres 0
The Spartans laid claim to the WAC crown but the Bulldogs did not make it easy. Lathrop won the first set 25-14 but trailed by as many as 10 points in the second before coming back for a 27-25 win.
Arman John tallied 11 kills for the Spartans with Jason Seabron and Kyle Constantino adding five apiece. Diego Sanchez-Castaneda made 12 digs and Tory Sumbler dished out 20 assists.