Raiders sweep San Diego Mesa in men’s volleyball home opener


Right Side Hitter Jay Ahir prepares to serve during the Raiders home opener against the San Diego Mesa Olympians Feb. 1, 2019 in the Moorpark College gym. Photo credit: Danny Stipanovich

By Danny Stipanovich

After facing off in a preseason tournament last month, the Moorpark Raiders met the San Diego Mesa Olympians on Feb. 1 for their regular season opener.

Freshman and sophomore outside hitters Ryan Horan and Brent Rasmussen led the Raiders with six kills each as they swept the Olympians: 25-15, 25-7, 25-16.

When the Olympians announced their starters, it looked like a freshman team going up against a Varsity team. The shortest starting Raider was still taller than the tallest starting Olympian.

Head coach Aaron Hedland stuck to his game plan, not changing course because of the huge size difference.

“[We wanted to] focus on our side of the net, and to just get comfortable it being our season opener and the new systems we’re trying to get used to,” Hedland said.

When Moorpark jumped to a quick 2-0 lead, it looked like the first set would end swiftly. But the Raiders’ own mistakes tied the game at 10-10 after giving up five points off service errors.

“I think it was just first-game jitters,” sophomore outside hitter Jordan Moses said. “[We had to] take it seriously and not underestimate them.”

With back-to-back kills from Moses, the Raiders were back on track. They finished on a 15-5 run to win 25-15 as their starters combined for ten kills.

“[Heading] in the second set, we knew what we had to take care of and make sure we make our serves in and minimize our errors,” Moses said. “That was key.”

Starting freshman setter Steven Weese carried the momentum with an ace right off the bat.

“Coach Aaron has been really pushing me with my serve,” Weese said. “He told me if I want to go D-1, which is a goal of mine, the float serve is not going to work. So I have been practicing the jump in practice, and I got to showcase it tonight.”

Weese finished the night with five aces and 32 assists.

The Raiders celebrate a Steven Weese kill in the third set of their home opener at Moorpark College gym against San Diego Mesa on Feb. 1, 2019. Photo credit: Danny Stipanovich

A kill from freshman middle blocker Christian Escobal put them up 5-2 in the second set, and the Raiders never looked back. They went on a 20-5 run to win 25-7 as Weese closed out the set with back-to-back aces.

The Raiders combined for six aces and only allowed one kill the entire second set as they rolled through the Olympians.

In the third set, freshman middle blocker Brandon Dela Fuente and freshman right side hitter Jay Ahir came off the bench and combined for eight kills to help finish off San Diego Mesa 25-16.

(left to right) Ryan Horan, Brandon Dela Fuente, Steven Weese, Jay Ahir, and Brent Rasmussen come out of a timeout in the third set against San Diego Mesa on Feb. 1, 2019 at the Moorpark College gym. Photo credit: Danny Stipanovich

“[With so much talent] it makes our job a little bit tougher because we have to make tough decisions every day about who gets the nod,” Coach Hedland said. “But that’s a good problem to have and we’re really spoiled this year for sure.”

The Raiders host Santiago College next on Wednesday, February 13 at 1:00 pm.