The last all-Metro Conference boys volleyball match-up in the San Diego Section finals took place in 1992 when the Southwest Raiders topped the Bonita Vista Barons in three games to win the Class 3A championship.
The Barons made a return appearance in the 1996 Division I title game, recording a runner-up finish by another 3-0 margin.
Since then, Bonita Vista’s spikers have tried but fallen short in every playoff title quest. They’re going to get another chance Friday at Canyon Crest Academy when they play Santana at 7 p.m. for the Division III championship.
It’s been a long wait for both teams.
“It’s amazing,” said BVHS junior opposite hitter Cameron Short after Wednesday’s 3-1 semifinal conquest of the visiting fifth-seeded Hoover Cardinals. “It’s an experience we need to take advantage of and enjoy at the same time.”
The top-seeded Barons (19-10) dispatched the Cardinals by scores of 18-25, 25-11, 25-14, 25-20 — winning three consecutive games after dropping the opener.
The hosts had to rally, in fact, to win the fourth game to seal their trip to the CIF finals. Hoover built a 17-14 advantage, only to see Bonita Vista slowly chip away at that lead before turning it around to go up 19-18.
Once finally on top, the Barons rushed to take a 24-18 edge.
Short said his team was not worried about being taken into a decisive fifth game.
“We’ve been behind before, we’re a very mentally strong team,” Short explained. “We know how to have fun but be competitive at the same time. That keeps our heads in the game.”
Paul Landeros led Bonita Vista with 10 kills against the extremely athletic Cardinals while Short contributed eight kills and Giancarlo Centeno and Dylan Decker each had seven kills.
Charles Han collected 32 assists while Centeno had 23 digs and teammate David Melendrez had 18 digs.
BVHS coach Anthony Harrington was obviously proud of his team’s accomplishment.
“We’ve progressed a little faster than I thought,” Harrington said. “It means a lot to me personally because I’ve coached these guys from the JV when they were freshmen and sophomores.”
The third-seeded Sultans (16-10) defeated second-seeded Sweetwater, 3-0, on Wednesday to draw the top-seeded Barons.
Grossmont Valley League champion Santana is making its first return to the CIF finals since 1998.
Bonita Vista turned back visiting Escondido Adventist, 3-1, in Monday’s quarterfinals while Sweetwater eliminated 10th-seeded San Diego 3-0, also on Monday to advance to Wednesday’s semifinals.
Bonita Vista swept Santana, 3-0, in the teams’ only regular season match-up on March 27.
Metro-Mesa League co-champion Otay Ranch (24-13) saw its string of three consecutive CIF division championships end after suffering an early exit from the opening round of Tuesday’s Open Division playoffs. Fifth-seeded Otay Ranch fell, 3-1, at fourth-seeded Westview (23-9) as the Wolverines prevailed by scores of 25-17, 27-25, 23-25, 28-26. The Mustangs defeated league rival Eastlake to win last year’s Division I title.
Metro-Mesa League co-champion Eastlake, seeded seventh, also saw its playoff run cut short following a first-round loss at No. 2 seed Torrey Pines on Tuesday.
BOYS VOLLEYBALL PLAYOFFS
Saturday, May 17
(12) El Camino defeated (5) Hilltop 25-22, 25-18, 25-14
Tuesday, May 20
(9) Olympian (12-15) at (1) Escondido (24-10), 7 p.m. Escondido wins 3-0
Monday, May 19
(1) Bonita Vista defeated (9) Escondido Adventist 25-16, 24-26, 25-15, 25-14
(2) Sweetwater defeated (10) San Diego 25-21, 26-24, 25-20
Wednesday, May 21
(5) Hoover (17-3) at (1) Bonita Vista (18-9), 7 p.m. Bonita Vista wins 3-1
(3) Santana (15-10) at (2) Sweetwater (17-15), 7 p.m. Santana wins 3-0
Championship game: Friday, May 23, 7 p.m. at Canyon Crest Academy
Match-up: (1) Bonita Vista (19-10) vs. (3) Santana (16-10). Santana wins 26-24, 25-19, 16-25, 26-24
(5) Horizon Christian (6-8) at (4) Southwest (8-7), 7 p.m. Horizon Christian wins, advances to championship game
Semifinals: Wednesday, May 21
Championship game: Friday, May 23, 5 p.m. at Canyon Crest Academy
San Dieguito Academy defeats Horizon Christian for title