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Valencia girls volleyball rebuilding, but they’re winning too

Posted: September 10, 2013 10:11 p.m.
Updated: September 10, 2013 10:11 p.m.

Valencia's Emily Burns (18) hits a pike against Notre Dame Academy. The Vikings won 3-2 in a five game match. Photo by Andres Aguila.

When you lose two of the Santa Clarita Valley’s top girls volleyball players, it’s hard not to say you’re rebuilding.

But as the Valencia Vikings girls volleyball team showed on Tuesday night against the traditionally strong Notre Dame Academy Regal Gryphons in a 3-2 win, rebuilding doesn’t mean the Vikings won’t be competitive in 2013.

“We are a very young team. There’s a lot of learning, but everyone is working really hard,”  said outside hitter Lindsey Knusden. “It’s fair to say there is a bit of a rebuild, but I don’t think it will hold us back. For us, rebuilding means it’s a different team. We’re building up the new team chemistry and it’s a lot of fun.”

Valencia won by scores of 25-22, 23-25, 25-16, 25-21, 15-8.

The Vikings (1-0), who have won 10 of the last 11 Foothill League titles, including last year’s championship, are without 2012 All-Santa Clarita Valley Player of the Year Delaney Knudsen and First Team selection Sierra Sanchez.

Both are now playing NCAA Division I sand volleyball, Knudsen at Pepperdine and Sanchez at Florida State.

On Tuesday, it was Knudsen’s sister Lindsey stepping up in her place against NDA (2-1), ranked seventh in the latest CIF-SS Division I-AA poll — the highest division in CIF-Southern Section girls volleyball.

The match was tight in nearly every game before Valencia took charge in the deciding fifth.

The Vikings jumped out to a 6-0 lead and the Regal Gryphons never got closer than three as Emily Burns sent a kill off the NDA wall for the winner.

Knudsen led the Vikings on the night with 28 kills, while Emily Bible added a team-high 19 digs and Hayley Alvarez had 45 assists.

“I always expected us to win,” Knudsen said. “It is a big win for us. We had to play really well in that fifth game to win it.”

Valencia had its moments of struggle along the way, though.

After two tight games to start the match, the Regal Gryphons took charge in game three with a 25-16 victory.

After taking a 20-17 lead in game one, Notre Dame Academy went on an 8-2 run to take a 1-0 game lead and put Valencia in an early hole.

But when they needed it, the Vikings stepped up, tying the match with slim victories in game two and game four to force game five.

For a team expected to be in rebuilding mode, the Vikings sent a message not to overlook them in 2013.

“Definitely keep an eye on Valencia,” Knudsen said. “Or don’t. Keep us a secret.”


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