The Saint Francis boys’ varsity volleyball team participated in the Best of the West Invitational in San Diego, facing six different high schools over the course of two days. The team already had an impressive start to the season, claiming three wins at home before traveling to the invitational.
On March 4, the Lancers played La Jolla High School, Los Alamitos High School, and Punahou High School, winning the matches 2-0, 2-1, and 2-0, respectively. The next day, they played Mater Dei High School first thing in the morning, losing 0-2. Nevertheless, the team rebounded, winning their next matches against Sanger High and Campolindo High, both two sets to zero.
While the invitational had no impact on rankings for CSS or WCAL, it still held immense importance for the team. Best of the West was the chance for the team to compete against various volleyball teams from across Southern California, an uncommon occurrence in the past few seasons.
The invitational provided another chance to showcase the team’s talent, but this time to a new set of opponents. Jerry Feng (’22), the team’s outside hitter, named the skill level of the teams at the competition as a motivating factor, mentioning that the teams from Southern California are “known as the better volleyball teams in the country.”
Head coach Jonah Carson elaborated, stating that the team wanted to compete and “show that [they] were really one of the top teams nationally.” And show they did, finishing with a win-loss record of 5-1.
When considering the impact of certain games, the win over Los Alamitos High takes center stage. The team’s libero, Joe Wallace (’22), said that one of their main goals was to “get into tough situations and play some tough teams.” The team played Los Alamitos on the first day itself, winning the first set, giving up the second, and finally rallying back to claim the third set and win the whole game. Wallace highlighted the importance of team spirit for their comeback, describing the game environment as “guys on the bench bringing in their energy, [and] guys on the court doing their job.”
The impact of the game against Punahou High School is also worth a mention. The team’s opposite hitter, Daniel DeVine (’25), said that Punahou was “the best team we had played this season,” and that their win against Punahou gave “the team the confidence we needed to then go on to beat Los Alamitos and win our pool.”
The team values tough competitors and persistence among their players, both of which the Best of the West Invitational had to offer. Coach Carson sums up the significance of these qualities for the team’s future: “If we want to win championships — which is what our goal is. If we want to win WCAL, CCS, and NorCal, [we’re] not going to do that by just beating everybody easily. [We’re] going to have to play some really tight competitive matches. If we can do that, and we have been doing that, then that’s a good thing for us.”