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Hart, West Ranch get first look at each other on volleyball court

Posted: August 2, 2013 8:39 p.m.
Updated: August 2, 2013 8:39 p.m.

West Ranch's Alexis Clewis (28) hits the ball past a Hart defender on Friday afternoon at the Santa Clarita Sports Complex during a Foothill Invitational match. West Ranch won 2-0 to advance to the gold bracket.

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With neither team’s varsity roster set, it would be foolish to read too much into Friday afternoon’s Foothill Invitational matchup between the West Ranch Wildcats and Hart Indians on Friday at the Santa Clarita Sports Complex.

But there were certainly a few takeaways worth noting in the Wildcats 25-22, 25-20 win.

West Ranch’s Alexis Clewis, one of, if not the, favorite to win the Foothill League Player of the Year award entering the fall, showcased her skill from all over the court.

Clewis notched the winning kill in both games and showcased the power, speed and court awareness that led to her commitment to Gonzaga University.

“While everybody sees the athletic potential she has, I’m more impressed with her poise for serve/receive and her aggressiveness with floor defense and how well rounded a volleyball player she is,” said West Ranch head coach Garrit Maxwell.

Both teams appeared fairly even through much of the first game, before West Ranch opened its largest lead of the game at 23-18 on a kill by Clewis.

After the Wildcats picked up another point on a hitting error by the Indians, Clewis capped the game with a kill down the line to put West Ranch ahead 1-0.

Hart opened up a quick lead early in game two, and the two teams traded the lead five times before West Ranch tied the score at 16-16 on a kill by Alexa Hesseldenz to start a 6-0 Wildcats’ run.

West Ranch wouldn’t trail again, as Clewis notched the final two kills of the game to secure the 25-20 win.

For a Hart team that was depleted up the middle due to graduation, the opportunity to play against someone with the power of Clewis was seen as a benefit by Hart head coach Mary Keen.

“We know the issue with West Ranch, Alexis is a big hitter. We don’t have the tallest blockers against her. It’s beneficial because the middles need to see the best of the best and use their speed to go to the block and try and close.”

So far, that position is being filled by Claire Cansler, Sandra Duarte and Brooke Boron, as Hart played well at the net for stretches, but couldn’t hold down the Wildcats’ attack for long.

Like they did on the first day of the tournament Thursday, Hart mixed in multiple players, as Keen is still looking for who will make the final varsity roster.

And while West Ranch was doing much of the same, Keen still saw an opportunity to scout a league rival.

“We look at teams’ tendencies. Is their hitter always hitting long or short? What’s their potential positions? Do they serve short or deep?”

The Wildcats didn’t exactly give much away, though.

West Ranch mixed their style up throughout the game, playing what Clewis called a “cat and mouse” offense.

“We would serve deep and short. We would attack and tip,” she said. “Our passing was very good and we had a very strong game.”

Like Hart, which lost six seniors off last season’s team that tied for second with the Wildcats, West Ranch lost seven seniors, including key players Carly Carapella, Amanda Dieterle, Sarah McGough and Hannah Williams.

But Maxwell is happy with the group he has returning.

“We have a nice blend of older and younger kids,” Maxwell said. “I don’t have a dominate group. What I’ve got is good kids at every year and I’m excited about that for this year and the future.”

West Ranch will begin the double elimination portion of the tournament today at 8 a.m. against Notre Dame in the gold bracket, while Hart plays in the silver consolation bracket at noon. Both games are at the Sports Complex.

 

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