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By Steve Breazeale
The arrival of freshman setter Noah Dyer has drastically changed the culture of boys volleyball at Saddleback Valley Christian. That much was apparent in the team’s three-set win over visiting Orangewood Academy on Wednesday, April 10.
Since Dyer arrived on campus, bringing years of club-level experience with him, the Warriors (11-2, 2-0 league) shifted their offensive focus toward Dyer’s ability to set up their big middle blockers and outside hitters. Last year the Warriors setters were not true, polished setters, according to head coach Ryan Van Rensselaer, which made Dyer a prized commodity on the 2013 roster.
“Both of our setters last year had never played volleyball before … Having (Dyer) come in with his awareness and knowledge of the game and how to run an offense totally changes everything,” Van Rensselaer said.
Dyer dished out a team-high 24 assists in the match against the Spartans (9-6, 1-1) and helped fuel the Warriors offense past their league rivals, who were tied with Saddleback Valley Christian atop the San Joaquin League standings to start the match.
After a 5-0 run early in the first set, the Warriors jumped out to a 12-4 lead and didn’t look back and coasted to a 25-12 set win. Warriors senior middle blocker Nick Worrell began his nine-kill night by tallying four in the first and recorded two blocks.
“Our team is really big and we can play with the higher division teams because we are big and have good setting,” Van Rensselaer said. “(Worrell) is hard to stop. He’s pretty dominant and he’s only been playing for a few years so he’s doing a good job.”
Worrell wreaked havoc on the Spartans back row all night and closed out the second set by tallying three of the Warriors final six points to take a 25-13 set win.
The Spartans fought back in the third set and were threatening to make a run with the scored tied at 11-11, but Dyer and Worrell, along with junior outside hitter Torrey Karlsen (13 kills), caught fire late and closed things out for good at 25-17.
The Warriors are currently ranked No. 1 in the CIF-SS Division 5 coaches poll. With their new-look, 6-2 offense and with Dyer controlling the tempo and passing aspect of the game, the team has lofty expectations in the coming months.
“They’re capable of winning CIF. They’re capable of going far in state,” Van Rensselaer said.
Saddleback Valley Christian was set to play against cross town opponent St. Margaret’s on April 11 in a non-league match and the Tartans defeated the Warriors 3-1.