Mountain View boys volleyball closed out a dominant season with a NorCal title.
By MIKE YOUNG | SportStars
The Mountain View High boys volleyball team has earned itself quite a summer vacation.
After fending off neighborhood foe Saint Francis-Mountain View in both the Central Coast Section finals and California Interscholastic Federation Northern Regional Division I finals over the last two weeks of May, the Spartans closed their season ruling as kings of the court.
The finish came in stark contrast to their 2013 season.
Mountain View, which fell in the CCS Div. I finals last year to Archbishop Mitty-San Jose — the team which eventually won Div. I NorCal final — was eager to prove that it had come a great distance over the past 12 months. This past off-season, Spartan coach M. Anthony Chen (Mac) stressed physical fitness.
“I think the guys came into this knowing it was going to be a long season, and we could potentially go to five (games) every night.”
The Spartans opened up the season with 18 straight wins before hitting their first bump in the road.
That bump came at the King of Cali Tournament hosted by Bellarmine-San Jose. The Spartans dropped two games in a row, including a loss to St. Francis.
“It was a reality check,” senior captain Jake Stuebner recalled. “We thought we were pretty good, then we lost those two games, which kind of showed us we need to work harder in practice. There was no going back after that.”
Senior star middle blocker Alec Flowers took the losses personal, as well — especially the one to St. Francis.
“It showed we needed to practice the mentality to work harder and get better,” Flowers said. “Because the next time we played (St. Francis), we wanted to show we could beat them.”
The Spartans swept the next match against the Lancers two weeks later. From then on, Mountain View played volleyball at another level, closing out their season by winning 14 straight. That included a five-game win over St. Francis in the CCS final on May 20.
When the two teams squared off for one last rematch in the CIF NorCal final at Dublin High on May 31, the game brought busloads of fans from both schools who made themselves heard. For the fans, the game could not start any sooner as both student sections created a lively atmosphere with familiar school chants that echoed throughout the gym.
The first three sets were about as close as one might’ve expected. The teams split the first two sets before Mountain View took a 2-1 advantage by winning the third set 25-23.
Sensing their opportunity and with momentum on their side, the Spartans dominated the the fourth set 25-16 and rolled to the NorCal crown.
“They’re a great team, we played them a lot and know that each time they bring it,” Chen said. “We knew coming into this it would be a battle, it was humbling yet satisfying.”
Chen has not only has been coaching Mountain View for four years, but the past two seasons he has also coached a Mountain View Volleyball Club team that included from both the Spartans and Lancers.
Over a span of years, the Mountain View area has produced a great amount of Volleyball talent scattered throughout the top colligate programs in the country. The NorCal final provided a full display of that talent.
“They’re a good team, there’s [Matthew] Larson, I play club with him, and Steve Dinneen,” Stuebner said of the St. Francis duo who kept the Lancers in the match for much of the night.
At the front line of premier volleyball talent in Mountain View is Flowers, who made several loud plays which were routinely followed by an “MVP!” chant from the crowd.
“The talent in our area has always been pretty incredible,” Flowers said. “It’s great to carry on that tradition of great volleyball in the area.”
For Stubner, he could not find more joy playing next to anyone else on the court
“He’s awesome,” Stuebner said of Flowers. “He’s the type of guy who works hard no matter what. We have times in practice where he’ll just bounce twenty balls in a row no problem. There’s no stopping him.”
Its hard to imagine Stuebner not enjoying himself. While Flowers got into the head of the Lancers with his physicality, Stuebner put on a display of dance moves all night with a grin from ear to ear. The dance moves took on a life of their own after Mountain View found good luck with it at a slow tournament in Santa Barbra earlier this season.
Stuebner and Flowers, along with captains Ryan McLaughlin and Allen Logan, are four of six seniors that Chen is dreading to replace next year. Replacing three captains and six starters is enough to have any coach worried.
“We have to replace everybody,” the coach said. “But you know, we’re just going to savor this moment right now.”
After raising CCS and CIF NorCal championship banners, Chen shouldn’t have any trouble developing his team for next year. Relieved, the coach watched Flowers tower over his classmates after they rushed court, and a smile struck his face as he watched Stuebner try to make the NorCal championship plaque his new dance partner.
The young Spartans’ summer break is well deserved, but will be full of training to bring the team back for a shot at repeating in 2015.
SportStars Magazine: High School Sports Articles Online SportStars is your go-to source for the very best high school sports articles in California. Player and team profiles, game coverage, health and fitness tips and the largest Camps, Clinics & Combine resource for athletes. We're the story behind the stats.