By Dave Loveton, sports information
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
Vaqueros take big step forward
New coach Zakarian guides team to playoffs
Armen Zakarian brought a new attitude and enthusiasm to the SBCC men’s volleyball
team and the Vaqueros responded with their best season in seven years.
“If you had told me before the season began that we’d double our (conference) win total, finish second in the WSC and host a playoff match, I wouldn’t have imagined that,” said Zakarian, the first-year Vaquero coach who was an outstanding player at SBCC and UCSB.
Santa Barbara went 6-4 in conference and 9-9 overall. The Vaqueros were led by first-team All-WSC picks Justin Hertlein, Kyle Benskin and setter Kaahukane Leite-Ah Yo. Hertlein was fourth in the the conference in kills (.339 per set), Benskin was No. 2 in hitting percentage at .415 and Leite-Ah Yo was third in assists (10.0). All three were sophomores.
Outside hitter Justin Carroll and libero Jacob Jenkins, a pair of freshmen, were second-team choices.
The team caught fire late in the season with a five-game winning streak, capped by a 3-2 upset at conference-leader Long Beach City. The victory snapped the Vikings’ 29-match WSC win streak.
Zakarian was named co-Coach of the Year in the conference after leading the Vaqueros to their first playoff appearance since 2008. SBCC fell to eventual state champion Irvine Valley 3-0 in the Regional playoffs on April 18 at home.
“More than anything else, I’m going to miss how much fun these guys are,” said Zakarian. “They’re a good group of learners, great in the classroom and that’s the kind of program we want to build.
“If you build it, they will come. And we’ve got some fantastic recruits interested in our program.”
2011 WSC Standings
*Long Beach 8-2 13-5
#SBCC 6-4 9-9
#El Camino 5-5 9-9
L.A. Pierce 4-6 9-8
Moorpark 4-6 8-9
Santa Monica 3-7 5-12
* Conference champ/Regional bye
# Clinched playoff berth