RIVERSIDE – The aspirations of the Riverside Boys Volleyball Team have had the support of their biggest crowd of 2021.
Kayden Croy led all players with 10 kills, and Darby Deniston and Kayla Uhlick played leading roles as the Bears defeated Temescal Canyon 25-16, 25-17, 25-13 in front of a crowded gym Wednesday night to secure their first Sunbelt League title
“We had a whole house that was great to see, we had our announcer and it was seniors night!” Poli coach Dana Volloyer said. “We’ve taken care of the ball on our part, and if we can stay focused on moving forward, we’ll be good.”
Croy showed her strength and soft touch and produced six kills during a dominant performance in the third game of the Poly (17-8, 7-1), which won eight games in a row heading into the qualifiers for the Southern Division of CIF.
“We really used the crowd support to push us through the game,” said Croy, a 6-foot-3 junior quarterback. “We’ve worked hard for this but we can’t settle down because we have a really good chance in the CIF qualifiers.”
For a team that had no wins (0-23) in 2018, seniors Denniston and Ohlick were on the ground at every moment from the program’s rise to league champion — through pandemic to championship-seeded contenders.
“We’ve never had this big a crowd before, so that’s really cool,” said Denniston. “We wanted this. We started my first year without any wins and now we are ending my last year as league champions. I couldn’t ask for anything else.”
Uhlick added: “The freshman year has been a tough year but we’ve rebuilt the program (and) are now the league champions heading into the CIF playoffs. Darby and I have been through that with this team, so it’s really rewarding.”
Alison Long had four kills, two blocks and one, but Timescal Canyon (11-12, 5-3) lost his third straight game before the playoffs. The Titans could have won a share of the Sunbelt League title.
“Not a very good offensive match from us. I think the energy was really low at first,” said Antoinette Campbell, Temescal Canyon’s coach.
Polly went on the road and beat Temescal Canyon in five sets on Sept. 29, and sophomore Aurora Elder took three kills and two squares to help the Bears blast off a 14-2 lead to start the first set on Wednesday.
Temescal Canyon led 9-8 in the second set, but 19 non-forced fouls were awarded to the Titans.
“I think a lot of it is really mental. Girls don’t really know how to take that next step,” Campbell said.
Croy started heating up with three kills, and Polly’s return game was strong enough to repel attacks from Temescal Canyon beyond hitters Delaney Jones and Eva Kemle.
Never behind in Game 3, Pole dominated the net with a variety of touches to keep Timescal Canyon lopsided and give the Bears a 20-10 lead before another serve error from the Titans – 14 – ended the match.