BY MATT JOCKSHEMET — The road took Hemet High’s boys volleyball team into uncharted territory. In the last mile, though, the ride got plenty rocky. Reaching the CIF Southern Section semifinals for the first time, the Bulldogs ran into a talented, veteran Camarillo squad. Hemet had to settle for a game effort, falling to the Scorpions, 25-21, 25-21, 25-22 in a Division 3 semifinal. “We got to the semis and we’ve got a lot of kids coming back,” Hemet’s first-year coach Bob Jensen said. “So there are a lot of positives. It’s just too bad it has to end like this at home.” Camarillo (28-5-1) looked every bit like a top seed, a squad making its third consecutive semifinal appearance. And it was no mystery why the Scorpions finally cleared the hurdle to reach Saturday’s championship match. Owen Yoshimoto, the Scorpions’ 6-foot-2 outside hitter, was the dominant player on the floor. He finished with 27 kills and 15 digs, leaving his opponents duly impressed. “It was basically one guy,” Hemet captain Jacob Hill said. “They were setting him 90 percent of the time. He was tough. He just controlled the play. “You can try to shift your defense to stop him. But he would adjust. He could see everything.” The first two sets followed almost identical patterns, with Camarillo jumping to the lead and Hemet (26-2) making a charge that was too little and too late. In both sets, Hemet closed from 24-18 to 24-21 before yielding the decisive point. “We always do that,” Hill said. “We’ve done that all year. We start slow and then find a way to come back.” With one set standing between the Bulldogs and the end of the season, Jensen delivered a blunt message. “I took them to the side and told them we were reverting to what I called sissy volleyball,” he said. “I told them we couldn’t be afraid to get back to swinging at the ball.” Hemet was more aggressive in the third, staying even or ahead for most of the set before Camarillo closed on a 5-0 run. Senior Dylan Vashaw had five of his teamhigh 12 kills in the third. “I just felt like no one was really trying hard enough,” Vashaw said. “I thought, ‘Don’t be afraid to swing hard.’ ” Said Jensen: “The kid is a monster. He can be a screwoff in practice, but when it’s on the line, he comes through.” Marcus Patterson had 11 kills for the Bulldogs and Kristian Gallardo had 19 digs.
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