In the case of the Camarillo High boys’ volleyball team, the end was like a slow death.
Late in the match, one could see in the players’ faces the ominous realization that defeat was inevitable.
The Scorpions made a valiant comeback effort but fell short in four games—25-19, 25-22, 22-25, 25-18—to Valley Christian of Cerritos in a CIF-Southern Section Division 3 semifinal at home Tuesday night.
“It hurts losing right now,” said Camarillo senior co-captain Christian Van Ouwerkerk.
Senior outside hitters Chris Albers and Kyle Pollema led the Crusaders with a dominating offense of hustle plays and voracious kills at sharp angles.
“They were smart hitters,” said Scorpion junior opposite Evan Yoshimoto of Albers and Pollema. “They knew how to get the ball over our block.”
Early in the bout, the Scorpions made several mistakes at the net and appeared off guard when Valley Christian’s hitters tapped bunnies over the frontrow blockers.
Camarillo couldn’t find a consistent rhythm until the third game, and self-inflicted mistakes cost ACHS in the long run.
Down two games, the Scorpions showed a fighting spirit with a stirring Game 3 victory.
“We felt a sense of urgency,” Van Ouwerkerk said. “We knew we had to leave it all on the court.”
A kill by senior setter Jesse Flitt gave Camarillo a 10-5 lead early in the third game. Valley Christian wouldn’t get closer than two points the rest of the game.
Camarillo head coach Rob Vandermay was proud of how his team competed.
“We didn’t give away anything,” he said. “This team took it from us. They were better than us today. I can live with that as a coach—they beat us.”
The Scorpions enjoyed a memorable season.
They went 27-3 overall and made only their third section semifinal appearance in school history. Camarillo won a section crown in 2003 and reached its last semifinal in 2004.
Camarillo also won two tournaments for the first time in school history while blitzing through the Pacific View League with a perfect 10-0 mark.
“I’m going to remember the sweet victories and the fun we had,” Vandermay said.
“We played so well together. I’ve enjoyed coaching this team so much. They had fun at every single practice, game and tournament.”
Van Ouwerkerk said he’ll remember the bond he built with his teammates.
“The best part of this season was the teammates,” he said. “We’re all friends with each other. “It hasn’t sunk in yet that we had a great year. I’m sure we’ll (eventually) look back and be proud of what we did. But we could have done better tonight. It’s a tough loss.”
Tuesday’s match marked the last time Van Ouwerkerk, who’s heading to Moorpark College, will likely play competitive volleyball, he said.
It was also the last high school bout for fellow senior co-captains Shaun York, Jose Rojas, Danny Reilly and Flitt.
Richard Martin, Owen Yoshimoto, Jordan McGinley and Kendall Jensen also contributed for the Scorpions this season.
Evan Yoshimoto appreciated playing with one of the best boys’ volleyball teams in school history. The loss doesn’t spoil what the Scorpions accomplished, he said.
“We’re a great team,” Yoshimoto said. “Getting this far was amazing.
“We played our hearts out. We played together as a team.”