The sweep streak continues as Upland beats Aliso Niguel in the boys’ volleyball tournament. 3 Rounds Semifinals – Orange County Record

Aliso Viejo >> Upland boys’ volleyball has not had to play more than three sets in any play-off this season.

Even as the stakes increased and opponents got tougher, the Highlanders didn’t have the experience of playing the fourth set.

Upland did it again, coming out with a sweep, 25-22, 26-24, 25-23, of Aliso Niguel in Saturday’s CIF-SS Division 3 Semifinals at Aliso Niguel High School.

“They made us win it,” Upland coach Scott Robertson said of Aliso Nigel. “They are a good team. They played hard. I give them all the credit in the world.”

Highlanders (36-3), the division’s top seed, will play the Royal of Simi Valley in the Division 3 final on Saturday, May 14 at a location to be determined.

Not only did the Highlanders swept the four teams they faced in the playoffs, they also pulled off their past nine competitions overall, returning to sweep Flintridge Prep 2-0 in a championship game on April 16.

Saturday’s Uppland leaders were Jordan Lucas with 16 and Kai Vogel with 11.

AJ Contreras also had five blocks assigned to the Highlanders.

Cage Gonzalez and Ty Carson finished with 14 and 12 kills, respectively, for the Wolverines (18-11).

“I knew they got into this match,” Lucas said, referring to Alesso Nigel’s win over Edison in the quarter-finals. “I knew they had guts, so we had to be more grit than they had. They were a tough team to beat, but consistently throughout the game, we just had our feet on the gas.”

The Wolverines came back from a massive deficit to get close to every set.

The Highlanders, who have moved up from Division 5 to Division 3 this season, were 15-11 ahead in the first set when the Wolverines went 5-1 to tie the score.

Johnny McKeown’s quick shot to kill gave the Wolverines a 22-21 lead, but the Highlanders hit back 4-0 to win the set.

In the second set, Upland led 19-12 when Raul Papalio and Carson scored 7-0 in the first half for Alesso Niguel to tie the score.

The Wolverines came from three points late in the set to make the score 24-14, when a kill and a crushing draw from Lucas made the Highlanders a 2-0 lead.

The third set included five major changes and seven draws.

Upland led 24-22 when Armaan Zia scored for the Wolverines to make it a one-point group.

But Vogel’s killing put the match away, eliminating any chance of the Wolverines returning, the way they did in their quarter-final win over Edison on Thursday.

“Discipline could have been better,” said Aliso Niguel coach Miguel Monterola. “This is something we have to work on.”

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