Top-ranked Torrey Pines continues to have the look of a champion

Torrey Pines' Jonny Li
Torrey Pines’ Jonny Li hits past the blocks of San Marcos’ Roberto Villarreal, left, and Charlie Wilson during Wednesday’s high school volleyball game.
(Denis Poroy/For The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Is this finally the year?

It seems like each spring, the Torrey Pines High boys volleyball team challenges for a San Diego Section championship in vain.

Always a top 10 team but never a champion.

The title drought has now reached decades. Torrey Pines last won a CIF championship in boys volleyball in 1993.

But this year just may be a different story.

At home for the first time this season, the No. 1-ranked Falcons swept aside No. 7 San Marcos 25-20, 25-12, 25-19 on Wednesday, April 12, despite having a few lapses that required a final push for the victory.

Torrey Pines now has four straight wins.

“We’ve been close a few times, getting into the finals but losing,” Falcons junior Christian Connell said. “I know we’d all be super stoked if we can push through and win this year.”

In the last decade that includes a 6-1 mark during the COVID year, the Falcons have posted a 210-99 record. The last title was the 2A Division crown in 1993 and was the second title in a three-year span.

But nothing since.

San Marcos (13-5, 1-2) led 3-2 in the first set before a 7-0 run gave the momentum to the Falcons. Leading 21-11, the Knights tallied eight straight points before a 4-1 surge clinched the set for Torrey Pines (19-4, 2-0).

Torrey Pines scored the first five points in the second set and never looked back.

Connell, who had four kills in the first set, added another five in the second set.

The Falcons took the lead in the final 6-5 and never gave it up. San Marcos was able to close the deficit to 19-15 before finally succumbing.

“The whole match was just OK for us,” Torrey Pines coach Nick Rubacky said. “We need more consistency on serve-receive so teams don’t come back on us like San Marcos tried to do.”

San Marcos has fared well on the road, fashioning an 8-2 record before getting swept Wednesday.

Connell led the winners with 16 kills and five aces while Sam Cesari added five kills and five blocks.

Torrey Pines managed a 32-23 edge in kills, a 14-5 edge in blocks and a 14-5 advantage in aces.

“We’ve let teams back into games a lot this year,” Connell said. “It’s a little frustrating at times because I would prefer to lead from the first point and just put teams away.

“When we make mistakes, we have to focus on the next point.”

Connell has his sights set squarely on adding a boys volleyball CIF banner to the rafters.

“Believe me, the girls volleyball team here knows how long it’s been since the boys have won one,” he added. “If we can win it, maybe we can talk with them about titles, but they also have a state title since we last won CIF.

“We’ve got some work to do.”

Garrett Baxter topped San Marcos with seven kills and a block, while Charlie Wilson and Kade Uda had four kills each.