LANCASTER — “The Javier Larranaga Show” aired at Eastside High on Friday night.
And in case you missed the 90-minute special, Larranaga’s special guests were the rest of the Knight boys volleyball team.
The junior was dominant as he finished with 17 kills, six blocks and five aces to help lead the Hawks to an impressive 25-17, 21-25, 25-19, 25-14 victory over the Lions.
With the victory, Knight improved to 6-4 overall and 2-1 in the Golden League. It will play three league matches next week. On the flipside the Lions dropped their third consecutive league game after starting the season with a victory against Highland.
“I thought we played really well. Our cleanest set that we played was obviously the fourth set. Our team chemistry came together (in the fourth set) and we wanted to end it right there,” Larranaga said. “We still have to communicate more, but we were able to put all our resources together and work as a team. We’re starting to come together. We just have to continue to play our game.”
Every time the Hawks needed to stop the bleeding following a run by Eastside, they looked to Larranaga who answered the bell.
At one point in the fourth set when Knight was attempting to put the Lions away, a five-point stretch for the Hawks included two kills and a block from Larranaga.
“Sometimes when we play well during a set we tend to back off, but in the fourth set we kept our foot on the gas. In the first and second (sets) we had leads and kind of backed off. That’s something we need to continue to work on. We have to develop that killer instinct,” Knight head coach Joe Susilla said. “Historically Eastside always plays us tough and we knew we were in for a battle. We’re improving daily and we have a goal we want to achieve.”
Eastside trailed 14-11 in the second set but reeled off eight consecutive points to grab a 19-14 lead. The Hawks couldn’t recover and the Lions evened up the match.
Knight was able to regain its senses in the third set after Eastside took the momentum. With the set tied 5-5, the Hawks scored the next five consecutive points to take a 10-5 lead. After the Lions scored the next point to cut the lead to four, Knight used another run and ran off six more points to extend the lead to 16-6.
But as Susilla mentioned, the Hawks eased up and Eastside took advantage by chipping away at the lead and getting as close as 19-16. The Lions, however, would get no closer as the Hawks staved off any comeback.
“It seems like we play so much better away from home and out of league,” Eastside head coach Francis Bosque said. “When they play at home and in league they’re a totally different team. We’re still trying to find out where we’re at. We had a good first match (against Highland) then we dropped three straight.
“We’re still trying to find the right combination. A few players are starting to step up. We gelled at the beginning of the season and I hope we get that gel back.”
The Lions led early in the fourth set after winning six of the first 10 points. Then the flood gates opened for Eastside.
The set remained close mid-way through, but the Hawks scored a barrage of points. Knight turned a close 15-12 lead into a 20-13 improbable comeback for the Lions.
“There was not a lot of hype tonight for us. I thought we could have played so much better. We didn’t show a lot today,” said Eastside’s Mario Garibaldi, who finished with nine kills. “I don’t know what got to us. I know we definitely have to talk more; we were really quiet out there.”
Larranaga’s dominance overshadowed an impressive performance by teammate Marvin Sanchez, who also filled up the stat sheet. Sanchez finished with 31 assists, five kills, five blocks and three aces.