Raiders ‘back on track’ following heartbreaking loss with home sweep against Antelope Valley


Freshman middle blocker Brandon Dela Fuente, 5, meets the set from Steven Weese, 18, against the Antelope Valley Marauders on Friday, March 8 in the Moorpark College gym. The Raiders swept the Marauders in three sets. Photo credit: Evan Reinhardt

By Danny Stipanovich

The Moorpark Raiders (6-2) swept the Antelope Valley Marauders (1-8) 25-19, 25-15, 25-18 Friday night, putting the Raiders at 6-2 overall, 2-1 in conference play. The Raiders remain 4-0 at home, with three of the four games being sweeps.

Friday night’s sweep came just two nights after a heartbreaking five-set loss to the 2-6 Santa Monica Corsairs, who defeated the Raiders 15-13 in overtime.

“Getting our confidence back, getting back on track, and learning that we got to respect every opponent equally was the focus,” head coach Aaron Hedland said.

Moorpark managed to pull off the sweep despite missing their leading scorer in sophomore outside hitter Jordan Moses (concussion), averaging 3.3 points per set and 10.2 kills per game. The Raiders were also left without freshman libero Sallarah Jawed (sickness) and freshman outside hitter Gurpreet Ghotra (sickness).

Brent Rasmussen, 14, Brandon Dela Fuente, 5, and Jay Ahir, 11, jump up for a triple block during the Raiders' home conference game against the Antelope Valley Marauders Friday, March 8. Photo credit: Evan Reinhardt

Ryan Horan, a freshman outside hitter, took advantage of the opportunity and led the Raiders with 7 kills and 5 service aces.

“He wasn’t as worried about the guy blocking in front of him or the defenders around him,” assistant coach Alex Barr said regarding Horan.

With Jawed out, the Raiders turned to freshman Tyler Maki who proved himself reliable at libero, leading the team with 10 digs.

“We always use him in the back row, but he stepped in as libero,” Barr said. “The confidence of going from three rotations to six is hard, but he stepped up and did a good job.”

Sophomore middle blocker Dylan Haskell continued to show off his dominance at the net with 3 block solos and 6 kills, who is averaging a state-leading 1.67 blocks per set.

Freshman setter Steven Weese, 18, and sophomore middle blocker Dylan Haskell, 10, extend for the block against Gerardo Villarreal, 4, of the Antelope Valley Marauders on Friday, March 8, at home. Weese finished the night with 4 block assists, while Haskell finished with 3 block solos. Photo credit: Evan Reinhardt

With the Raiders testing new lineups, they went back and forth with the Marauders in the first set, but pulled away and won 25-19.

The Marauders continued to keep it close in the second set until Haskell spiked in a kill to put the score at 16-10. Horan followed Haskell up with back-to-back service aces to put the set away at 18-10, and the Raiders won 25-15.

Freshman Brandon Dela Fuente, 5, celebrates with freshman Ryan Horan, 7, during the Raiders' home game victory Friday, March 8 versus the Antelope Valley Marauders. Horan finished with a team-leading 7 kills and 5 service aces. Photo credit: Evan Reinhardt

Moorpark found themselves down 5-8 in the third set, but a kill from sophomore outside hitter Sean Fitzpatrick sparked a 16-4 run and the Raiders took the set 25-18.

“We play as a family with a positive vibe and I think great things will happen,” said Fitzpatrick. “We play our game, and we will play well.”

The Raiders schedule only gets tougher from here. They look to carry their momentum as they go on the road to face the El Camino Warriors (8-1) March 13, who are on a six-game win streak, and first in the Western State Conference.

Then, the Raiders welcome the Long Beach City Vikings (7-3), Saturday, March 16, second in the WSC. The Vikings are coming off a home sweep against Santa Monica, but are only 2-2 on the road.