CARMEL — Carmel High junior Cole Dickman had been all-but unstoppable throughout the Padres’ Central Coast Section Division II quarterfinal match against Aptos High on Thursday night. Yet when he sprung off the hardwood for a kill on match point, he admitted that there was some nervousness.

“I kinda knew I could do it,” Dickman said. “I think I did it.”

He did. And it was a common sight throughout the night.

Dickman had the match of his life and the rest of the No. 4-seeded Padres weren’t too shabby either on a night in which the No. 5-seeded Mariners were still stuck in an unusual funk. All of that added up to a clean 25-15, 25-14, 25-21 Carmel sweep and the Padres’ first-ever CCS playoff win.

A lengthy 6-foot-2 junior middle blocker used normally in a defensive role, Dickman was on the offensive for much of the night and struck down a team-high 11 kills for the two-time undefeated Monterey Bay League Gabilan division champion Padres (21-6). Sophomore outside hitter Ben Airola filled in nicely for injured junior outside Keegan Forrester, finishing with 10 kills, and senior setter Ezra Delbick kept the Mariners (20-7) guessing while serving up 38 assists.

Usual kill leader Jared McNally, a 6-foot-5 senior outside hitter and the presumptive MBL-G Most Valuable Player, was not the focal part of the Padres’ attack but still chimed in with eight kills. Carmel head coach Israel Ricardez said that was by design. After scouting the Mariners’ first-round match against Pajaro Valley High on Tuesday, Ricardez said he wanted to attack the inside of the Mariners’ defense.

“I can’t tell you how proud I am of these boys for literally executing the scouting report to a T,” said Ricardez, who also lauded junior middle blocker Aidan Westerman. “Our outsides and our right sides get all the glory. They get all the sets and all the pins so these middles have been waiting for that moment to really step up and show everyone what they’re about.”

“Everyone knows who Jared is,” Ricardez added. “We needed everyone else to step up and they did. I’m proud of these two middles. They picked a great day to have a career night.”

With the win, the Padres advanced to their first-ever CCS semifinal. They will play the top-seeded Pacific Collegiate School Pumas, who edged Sobrato High in five games, on Saturday at St. Francis High in Mountain View at 5:30 p.m.

The Mariners had hoped to work their way back to their third straight CCS semifinal but never consistently found the offensive magic or defensive presence that allowed them to knock off Carmel early in the season and finish second in the Santa Cruz Coast Athletic League behind PCS.

They fell behind 7-2 in the first set and 7-1 in the second and were never able to recover, as Carmel cruised to wire-to-wire victories on both occasions.

“I think we just had the mentality that we were going to win and it was all in our heads,” said Aptos senior right side Jayson Guy. “They took it from us.”

Guy’s massive rejection on McNally late in the second set didn’t do much to change the outcome but it gave the Mariners a much-needed jolt of energy and momentum heading into the third.

Aptos hung tough through the first half of the deciding set behind the powerful strikes of junior outside hitter Kacey Losik but Carmel’s multi-headed offense slowly pulled away and held off a late charge to advance.

Overall, the Mariners had a better showing than Tuesday’s five-set nail-biter against Pajaro Valley. Still, head coach Jacob Landel said his team only showed its full potential in spurts.

“[Carmel] played great and we played less than great,” Landel said.

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