Over the last couple of years, the boys volleyball teams at Poway and Rancho Bernardo high schools have been the favorites to bring home the title in the Palomar League.
In 2009, the Broncos were undefeated in league play, and last year the Titans matched that record by going 8-0 throughout league on their way to the Palomar championship.
This year, it’s a whole new ballgame as neither of the perennial powerhouses has gotten off to the hoped-for start and both have suffered losses early in league play.
“It’s a rebuilding year for us,” said Poway coach Charles Jackson. “We’re an experienced team, just not at the varsity level.”
The Titans (5-7, 1-2) returned only five players from last year’s squad after graduating 11 seniors, but still they remain optimistic that they can compete for another league title, and perhaps a CIF banner when all is said and done.
“I think we have a definite shot at CIF,” said senior captain Mitch Nielson. “We’ve been playing some good, scrappy volleyball this year, and I feel we can beat any team that’s in front of us.”
Unfortunately that was not the case Wednesday night as RB (9-3, 3-1) got the best of the defending champs, winning a close match 3-1. Game scores were 26-24, 25-22, 18-25 and 27-25.
“We’re one of the top five teams in the county if we stay focused,” said Broncos first-year coach Jamie Boyle. “We want to win CIF this year, but it’d be an honor just to have a shot at the end.”
Rancho Bernardo has been led by outside hitter Richard Liesenring, who recently switched positions in order to help out his squad and has been leading the team in kills, with 32 in the last two games.
“It feels great that I’ve been able to step up my game after switching positions,” said Liesenring, who had 11 kills against Poway. “If we can keep our game and energy up, we can win it all.”
In a loaded Palomar League, every team seems to have an opportunity to vie for a league and CIF crown, but one thing’s for certain: Even in an "off year," you can’t count out the Broncos' or the Titans' chances for another deep run.