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Saugus gets look at new crop of players, first-year coach

Posted: August 1, 2013 9:16 p.m.
Updated: August 1, 2013 9:16 p.m.

Saugus outside hitter Amy Buffham (7) attacks past a pair of Eagle Rock defenders in a Foothill Invitational game on Thursday at the Santa Clarita Sports Complex.

For Saugus, the Foothill Invitational girls volleyball tournament is a chance to see which players can best handle live competition.

This weekend will be valuable for a team that turned over a lot of its roster from last year and is searching for a new crop of talent.

The mostly new Saugus Centurions took the court on Thursday for the opening day of the Invitational at the Santa Clarita Sports Complex.

The Centurions did so with a first-year head coach, Eric Luckenbach, who took over the team in December.

He’s replacing Zach Ambrose, who was head coach of the team for eight years and led the Centurions to a Foothill League title in 2011.

Times have changed, though.

“There’s potential and there’s an opportunity for good and there’s the potential to create some challenges for ourselves,” Luckenbach said.

Saugus won two of its three matches on Thursday in the Invitational Division, beating Chaminade 25-14, 25-13 and Eagle Rock 22-25, 25-20 and 15-13 before losing to Club Talon 25-22, 25-18 to cap off the day.

Among the few returners who were in action Thursday were senior outside hitter Makena Wasserman, junior outside hitter/setter Amy Buffham and junior defensive specialist Julianna Dole.

All three were heavily involved for Saugus, which showed spurts of ability mixed in with bouts of inexperience.

On Thursday, Buffham was the go-to hitter for the Centurions on the right side, while Wasserman, Chelsea Corn and Jennifer Mason also contributed offensively at different points.

Dole was one of the Foothill League’s top back-row players this year and figures to play a big role for a Saugus team that finished fourth in league a year ago.

Buffham and Canyon High junior transfer Robyn Underwood shared the setting duties in what will be a two-setter system for Saugus this year.

“If we can solve the leadership riddle, then we’ll be competitive and we’ll be where we need to be,” said Luckenbach, the former junior varsity coach at Valencia High.

Saugus will finish pool play in Pool B today at the same location with matches against Sunnyside and Hart.

From there, teams will be placed in crossover matches against squads from Pool A. That will determine the seedings for Saturday’s playoff brackets on the final day of the tournament.

Notes: West Ranch also competed in the Invitational Division of the tournament Thursday, beating Crean Lutheran 25-21, 25-20 and El Camino Real 25-13, 23-25, 15-10 while losing to Louisville 25-15, 23-25, 15-10. ... Across town, Canyon was competing in the Festival Division of the tournament at West Ranch High School, where Canyon beat Santa Paula 25-11, 25-20 and Immaculate Heart 25-20, 26-24 before dropping a match to Quartz Hill 25-12, 27-25. ... Valencia’s JV team also played in the Festival Division, winning two out of three matches in pool play.



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