Balers boys volleyball a smash hit

Balers senior Eduardo Villanueva led the team with a .320 hitting percentage.

It was a season to remember for the San Benito High boys volleyball team. The Haybalers finished 22-13 and won the Monterey Bay League’s Pacific Division championship before seeing their season end Tuesday in a straight-sets loss to top seed Monta Vista of Cupertino in the opening round of the Central Coast Section Division I playoffs.

“The guys were really excited to win a league title,” Balers coach David Ventura said. “I’m still excited. Hopefully this is the start of a nice run.”

Indeed, the future looks bright for San Benito, which graduates both of their middle blockers along with stalwarts Saul Martinez and Chris Gonzalez. However. The Balers have a great nucleus returning, along with an influx of talented newcomers who could make a huge impact. San Benito clinched the championship in the last league game of the regular-season, defeating Seaside in four games on May 3.

Alec Garcia, a freshman outside hitter, had 14 kills and 12 digs, Martinez finished with 10 kills, 12 kills and two blocks, and Brennan Ventura pumped out 37 assists. Gonzalez and Chad Champion combined for five service aces, and Eduardo Villanueva had nine kills and two blocks.

Villanueva hit .320 for the season, which Ventura called, “Amazing.” Once again, it was a total team effort for the Balers, who have relied on several players all season. The team’s balanced attack proved to be the difference against Seaside, in that it had more players capable of making a difference. Ventura talked up his players before the season started, and they delivered.

“Alec got on a hitting roll (against Seaside) and was able to hit down the line a lot,” Ventura said. “Alec has been a starter since day one, and he’s been playing steady all season. It seems like the last four to five matches he really started to get into a zone.”

San Benito, which will play in the newly formed mega league Pacific Coast Athletic League next year, most likely will get promoted to play in the top division. Ventura said the key to next season is to develop the middle blockers—junior Dylan Perry had some nice moments this season and Parker Iean, a 6-foot-3 middle who played on the junior varsity team, displayed flashes of great potential. Cyrus Turner projects to be the team’s libero for next season.

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