Whatever controversy or tumult that may have existed prior to Tuesday’s first round of the CIF-Southern Section Division 4 boys volleyball playoffs for Santa Fe High School was a non-factor by the evening’s end.
That’s because the Del Rio League co-champion Chiefs buried their issues along with visiting Garden Grove 25-22, 25-16, 27-25 at Michael Mendez Gymnasium.
The victory was the first for the Chiefs (19-12) in the postseason in three years and sent them into Thursday’s second round at 7 p.m. against either Cathedral (14-11) of Los Angeles or Crean Lutheran (14-6) of Irvine at a site to be determined later today.
Garden Grove finished 7-10.
The triumph also served as some vindication for a team that forfeited three league games and the league’s No. 1 seed because of the use of an illegal player.
“It’s great for us because of all the stuff that’s happened,” Chiefs senior setter Jeffery Nadal said. “We should have finished 10-0 in league and had that taken away from us. It hurt but we had something to prove today.”
The visiting Argonauts, who were swept by Santa Fe in a nonleague match on March 15, appeared headed toward winning their first game when they rebounded from a 23-21 deficit in Game 3 with three consecutive kills from middle blocker Garrett Williamson.
The final one went through a dig attempt from Santa Fe’s Derek Orozco that gave the Argonauts a 24-23 lead and led to a timeout from Chiefs coach Chris Komer.
“With the timeout at game point we wanted to make sure our passers were on their feet,” Komer said. “That was the big issue on my end and my guys adjusted well and they finished it out.”
Nadal tied Game 3 with a spike around a block try from Williamson.
Garden Grove scored the next point to go back to game point at 25-24, but Santa Fe again tied it with a spike from senior outside hitter Tommy Do that Garden Grove’s Dylan Schulz failed to block.
A blast from Nadal resulted in an illegal lift that put Santa Fe up 26-25.
The game then ended in an innocuous manner when a dig from Do turned into a kill that dropped between Garden Grove’s David Nguyen and Williamson, who both waited for the other to move.
“This game was eerily reminiscent to last year when we lost to Kennedy in five games in the playoffs,” Komer said. “We won the first two games and then lost a back-and-forth Game 3 that eventually led to a 3-2 loss.”
The Chiefs also were challenged in Game 1 as the Argonauts closed within 22-21 on a Chiefs double-hit violation.
Santa Fe went up by two on a critical Argonauts service error, their fifth of Game 1. That was followed by a point by Garden Grove, a kill from Nadal and a game-winning block from Jordan King.
In Game 2, the Chiefs bolted to a 13-9 lead and never allowed the Argonauts to pull closer than four.
King led Santa Fe with 10 kills while Nadal added seven kills and 14 assists, Do contributed 16 digs and six kills and Jose Rocha had five aces.
Williamson paced Garden Grove with 12 kills.