Register-Pajaronian: Hawks Battle Back into League Title Contention

Register-Pajaronian, 4/26/2019, “Hawks battle back into league title contention,” photos and story by Juan Reyes, Register-Pajaronian.

WATSONVILLE — Don’t look now, but the Mount Madonna School boys’ volleyball team is peaking just at the right time. And that can mean trouble for some teams in the Santa Cruz Coast Athletic League.

Hawks senior Luca Peruzzi had 15 kills, while Samith Lakka added 11 kills and 4 aces to help defeat Harbor High in three sets (25-16, 25-15, 25-21) on Wednesday in league play.

“It was a huge win,” said Hawks coach PK McDonald. “That puts us in a good spot where we wanna be going into the tournament and possibly getting a home game.”

The Hawks closed out the regular season with back-to-back wins, including one against Santa Cruz High on Tuesday. Mount Madonna is on an eight-game winning streak in SCCAL play.

Mount Madonna finished its regular season 15-8 overall and 9-3 in SCCAL play. They also have a chance to finish second in the league standings, which means a bye in the first round in the SCCAL tournament and a home game.  

But first, Aptos High (16-10, 9-1) has to defeat Soquel High (13-8, 9-2) on Thursday night in order for Mount Madonna to secure the No. 2-seed in next week’s tourney.   

“We’ll see what happens,” McDonald said. “They’re both really good teams and anything can happen. But, the main thing is this team continues to get better night in and night out.”

The most impressive stat about this Mount Madonna volleyball team is the fact they only have nine players on the roster.

Mount Madonna School boys’ volleyball coach PK McDonald, center, is leading a young team that includes sophomore Octavio Moreno, left, and senior Samith Lakka. The Hawks are on an eight-game winning streak in SCCAL play after defeating Harbor High in the regular season finale on Wednesday. (Juan Reyes — Register-Pajaronian)

McDonald has had to lead a young team that includes sophomore Octavio Moreno, who never stepped foot on a volleyball court prior to the start of the season.

“I think the win was important not only just for me but for everybody else,” he said. “We went through some tough times earlier in the season but I think a lot of the seniors stood up and played their part.”

Lakka said it’s been amazing to watch the younger players who have stepped up and slowly grow into great players.

“They’re all amazing athletes,” he said. “Even our freshman Ben (Pearson), he came up in the second half of the season and he’s been really bringing the hurt.”

Lakka said he’s impressed with Moreno’s impact on the team, especially because it’s his first year of varsity volleyball.

“I haven’t seen anyone just start playing volleyball and being that great,” he said.

Moreno said it was overwhelming for him at first because he was pressured since his freshman season to join the team. He played baseball for 10 years along with water polo, basketball and even tried out for tennis.  

“I think just overcoming that and stepping up, just playing for the team and not worrying about what people might think about my capabilities,” Moreno said.

Moreno said it’s been a positive experience and admitted he struggled in the beginning because he was still learning the basics of the game.

“I really didn’t know what to do at all,” he said. “Honestly, I had no idea what I was doing so I came in with an open mind and tried to do as best I can, learn as much as possible.”  

Lakka said the Hawks needed to win Wednesday so they can try to secure a second place finish in the league standings.

“I’m really proud of our team, we really came back in the second half of the season going undefeated after dropping a couple of games in the first half,” he said.

Lakka said he’s looking forward to seeing how far Mount Madonna can go in the league tournament and CCS playoffs.

Lakka was one of a handful of player to return after sitting out with an injury but said he’s happy to see the team continues to play consistent.

“I’m more motivated after watching our team,” he said. “I saw the potential when I was on the bench and I believe that we can do some great things with how consistent our team is.”