By Ted Apodaca
After winning the CIF-SS Division 4 championship last year, the Kennedy High boys volleyball team was on a quest to win back-to-back titles.
The Fighting Irish were moved into Division 3 this year, and made a run to the semifinals before seeing their season come to an end with a four-set loss to a familiar foe. After dropping the first two sets, Kennedy came within inches of forcing a fifth set, but fell, 15-25, 19-25, 25-21, 23-25 to Downey, the team it had defeated in last year’s final.
Despite the loss, Head Coach Travis Warner said the two-year run was something very special for the core group.
“There are no words for it, I’m so proud of them, I love ‘em and they’re going to remember this forever,” Warner said.
In the fourth set, Kennedy trailed 19-13 before going on a 5-0 run to close the gap. Coby Prowse had a kill off a block, and then a cross-court hit that cut the lead to 19-15 and forced a Downey timeout. But the timeout failed to stem the tide, as Daniel Song and Prowse had consecutive tap shots to open court to cut the lead to 19-17. Song ended the run with a kill to cut the lead to 19-18.
The next two points for Downey would come on lift ball and double hit calls against Kennedy. Downey would get to match-point at 24-21, but the Fighting Irish continued to fight back. Ryan Kim hit a one-timer shot on an overpass to cut the lead to 24-22 and a wide hit by Downey cut the lead to 24-23. After a Downey timeout, a long rally ensued, ending when a Kennedy tap shot down the line fell just outside the line to give Downey the win.
Kennedy had defeated Downey in the finals last year and had beaten them earlier in the year in five sets, taking the fifth set, 15-12. Warner said they expected a close match.
“We knew it was going to be something like that again, unfortunately, we got down 0-2,” Warner said.
The second set was tied at 13-13 but Downey had a 4-0 run to take a late advantage. Kennedy fought back to get as close as 21-19, but Downey closed with a 4-0 run to gain the two-set advantage.