Fallbrook High School’s boys volleyball team began the season by winning nine consecutive matches.
The Warriors improved their season record to 9-0 by winning their pool in the March 24-25 Del Lago Varsity Tournament, and although Fallbrook lost in the bracket seeding round, the Warriors reached the championship match prior to a three-game loss to Patrick Henry.
“We started off on a high note,” said Fallbrook coach Chip Patterson.
The Warriors began the season March 2 with a match at Temecula Valley High School and returned home with a 25-15, 25-18, 25-17 victory. On March 7 Fallbrook hosted Escondido Adventist Academy, and after the Hawks won the first game by a 25-13 score, Fallbrook took 25-18, 25-12, and 25-23 triumphs in the next three sets.
A March 9 home match against Liberty Charter ended as a 25-11, 23-25, 25-17, 26-24 Warriors win. Fallbrook had a March 14 road match against Del Lago Academy and defeated the Firebirds by a 25-23, 25-23, 15-25, 25-21 score. The Warriors were at El Camino for a March 16 match and swept in three sets 25-20, 25-10, and 25-22. Orange Glen was the site of Fallbrook’s March 21 competition and the Warriors posted an 18-25, 25-18, 25-23, 25-22 victory.
“They played very well,” said Patterson.
Pool play for the Del Lago Varsity Tournament took place March 24 and the Warriors won both of their matches: a 25-14, 25-7 decision over O’Farrell and a 25-11, 25-14 victory over Kearny.
The seeding match on the morning of March 25 pitted Fallbrook against Classical Academy. The Caimans won a pair of 25-23 sets to hand the Warriors their first defeat of the season.
Fallbrook’s semifinal match against Valley Center went the full three games. The Warriors were on the winning end of the 25-23 score in the initial set and the Jaguars prevailed by that margin in the second game. The third game was to 15 points and the Warriors were on the preferred end of the 15-8 score.
Patrick Henry took a 25-23 victory in the first game of the final. Fallbrook came back with a 25-11 triumph in game two. The third game had a 15-13 score with the Patriots winning.
“We had them,” Patterson said.
In both the loss to Classical Academy and the defeat against Patrick Henry, Fallbrook errors at the end of the deciding game swayed the final score in the opponent’s favor.
“That kind of killed us,” said Patterson. “We did that to ourselves.”
Last year the Warriors won four consecutive matches at the Del Lago tournament, which had been Fallbrook’s longest winning streak this decade.
Fallbrook’s 11-player roster includes five members of the 2016 varsity: senior middle blocker Justice Patterson, senior middle blocker Matt Araiza, senior setter Angel Mercado, senior libero Giovanni Duenas, and junior defensive specialist Johnnie Iniesta.
“It makes a difference,” said Chip Patterson of having five returning players, including four returning starters.
Last year the Valley League coaches selected Justice Patterson to the all-league first team.
“He’s an outstanding middle blocker and it’s hard for other teams to stop him,” said Chip Patterson.
Araiza and Mercado were all-league honorable mention selections. Junior outside hitter Miles Dewhurst did not play in 2016.
James Prahm, a junior who transferred to Fallbrook High School from Cathedral Catholic, plays several positions due to Patterson’s various formats, which includes a 6-2 format with two setters.
“We made him a setter this year, but he’s a middle blocker,” said Patterson of Prahm.
This year Prahm is the Warriors’ starting right side hitter when he isn’t being called upon to set.
“It all builds around Justice, Miles, and James Prahm,” said Chip Patterson. “You have a dominant middle, a dominant outside, and a dominant right side.”
Justice Patterson, Dewhurst, Prahm, and Mercado play club volleyball in addition to competing during the high school season.
James Brodak, who played on Fallbrook’s junior varsity in 2016, is the Warriors’ other starting outside hitter. If the Warriors are serving, sophomore Joseph Portillo, who was also on the 2016 junior varsity team, is the Warriors’ right side hitter.
“I think these guys will do extremely well,” Chip Patterson said.
“I’m very proud of them and I think it’s going to come together,” Patterson said. “It’s all about trusting one another and everything will be fine.”