by David Delgado
COSTA MESA >> Competition among friends can be an intriguing yet difficult task to tackle.
In a battle that pitted two colleagues, Tesoro’s boys volleyball coach Pat Eaton and Servite coach Matt Marrujo, and their respective programs against each other, it was the Titans who came out on top.
Tesoro beat the top-seeded Friars in five sets, 23-25, 26-24, 25-23, 20-25, 15-8, Friday night at Orange Coast College in the CIF-SS Division 2 final.
The longtime friends and fellow club coaches for the Balboa Bay Volleyball club were both their making their first appearance in a CIF championship match.
“It’s all love,” Eaton said. “I’m lucky to get to work with Matt (Marrujo), he’s such a good example of sportsmanship and fight for his guys, so there’s no surprise that his boys play with that same type of fire and toughness.”
“You love coaching against your buddies,” Eaton added, “but at the same time you hate knowing that only one of you is going to win. It just happened to be us this year.”
Sophomore outside hitter Kaumana Carreira led the Titans with 26 kills and junior opposite Nathan Draper had 13 kills.
“Sometimes it’s good to be young in these situations,” Eaton said about Carreira. “Sometimes he’s swimming in deeper waters than I think he knows, but he’s such a special player, he can do things that you really can’t teach in a gym, and when we’ve needed him most he’s stepped up for us.”
The Friars (28-11) trailed in the first set 20-16 but went on a momentum-snatching run to take the set 25-23 thanks to solid work from Eamon Rigdon and Jack Morikawa.
Tesoro (19-7) countered with big plays from middle blockers Emmanuel Wandji and Dylan Patton in the next two sets, and both sets ended with back-to-back kills from Carreira that gave the Titans a 2-1 lead.
Servite would go on to force a fifth set but Tesoro was able to make the necessary plays to close out the match.
“Tesoro is a first-class program, they’re well coached and we knew it was gonna be a battle,” Marrujo said. “And while it stings, I know we played our hearts out and we played great volleyball.”
Eaton’s respect for Marrujo and the Friars kept him on edge until the final point of the match.
“We knew they would keep coming, we knew that from playing Servite last year. Matt Marrujo does such a great job with his guys, they’re so tough and they just never quit,” Eaton said. “If you talk about culture, Servite has such a great culture, we’re trying to get to that point, but just to fight on the court with them like that was special and we did a pretty good job of that.”